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  (Source: Projectionist)

  (Source: Limited Edition)
Did Apple trick customers to force upgrades?

Apple received national criticism in 2007 when it "bricked" unlocked iPhones via an OS update, rendering the phones useless.  That move led to multiple lawsuits and a firestorm of negative publicity.

Now Apple has been accused of a different kind of bricking.  According to a suit filed in Superior Court in San Diego this time around Apple used an OS update not to render useless just unlocked iPhones, but locked and unlocked models alike in a bid to force users of older iPhone models to upgrade.

The suit stems from the fact that the iOS 4 upgrade leaves the iPhone 3G unresponsive and hard to use.  Despite the fact that this phenomena appears almost universal, Apple urged unwitting iPhone 3G users to upgrade to the new operating system.

States the complaint, "The true fact of the matter, as verifiable by information technology experts, is that the iOS 4 is a substantial 'downgrade' for earlier iPhone devices and renders many of them virtually useless 'iBricks'.  Nonetheless, in reasonable and detrimental reliance upon Apple's false representations, false statements and false claims of full compatibility, thousands upon thousands of iPhone 3 users were intentionally misled into installing iOS 4 on their devices."

The suit notes that Apple provides users with no means to perform a re-install of an earlier operating system version.  Apple's promotion of iOS 4 to iPhone 3G users when it likely knew that it would render their phones useless and that they would be unable to restore their phones, was likely a scheme to force users of older models to upgrade.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of plaintiff Bianca Wofford, a iPhone 3G owner and is seeking class action status.  Ms. Wofford recalls that after installing iOS 4, as suggested by iTunes, that her iPhone 3G's performance greatly suffered.  She states, "While not completely disabled, the operability of the device was significantly degraded and the device was no longer reliable."

DailyTech reported on this issue with older iPhones back when iOS 4 launched.  iPhone 3GS models also reportedly suffered a performance hit, though not as big a one.  Apple's forums are filled with a deluge of complaints about the poor performance of iOS 4 on older model phones.

Ms. Wofford is seeking for Apple to reimburse every plaintiff in the class the cost of their phone, plus $5,000 in additional damages.

Apple would not comment to us on this lawsuit, and their standard policy is not to comment on lawsuits (which they've had more than a few of).

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RE: Don't repeal the best tax
By drycrust3 on 11/5/2010 1:57:27 PM , Rating: 2
Most company that makes software tests everything out and even has a way to back out/downgrade of the upgrade you don't like it.

I agree. However, in their defence (yeah, I know, I actually started this by bagging them as well, but then thinking about their situation made me realise there was a bit more to this than I had initially thought), because of high demand it may well be that there are actually thousands of variants of the iPhone 3G. It could easily be that it was actually impossible for Apple to have tested the OS on every single variant because they didn't have samples of every single variant made and may not actually know what variants there are. The only guarantee they have is that all the phones did pass certain quality standards.
Some variations may have had very short production runs, e.g. just 100 phones (because of left over parts from one supply contract and a shortage on another), or used "unauthorised parts" (e.g. the storage chip bit rate was lower than what Apple specified) so that no one at the factory actually bothered to (or wanted to) send a sample to Apple. As long as the phone passed known performance standards (e.g. stores x number of songs, make and receive phone calls using y and z frequency bands, 7 hours of video, etc), and who's going to worry if the performance is a tiny bit shy of what they want (e.g. only does 6:59 hours of video), the phone would have been deemed sellable so it got a "passed" sticker.
Sure, not having a rollback capability is a bit slack, but since the phone doesn't have the infamous PC BIOS chip that allows one to reboot without the OS working, I guess one could argue that even if a rollback capability was included there wouldn't be any way of initiating the rollback.

RE: Don't repeal the best tax
By Targon on 11/5/2010 2:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
While there might have been different "lot" numbers, the overall specs are the same between different phones of the same model. This means that except for cases of a DEFECTIVE part that only affects certain units, the update would have an identical impact on all phones of the same model.

Software problems with individual downloaded applications are a different issue, but in this case, you have a new OS version which is PUSHED by the manufacturer causing a degradation in performance with no way of backing out of the OS upgrade.

This situation would be like a car company issuing a recall notice on your car that has a net effect of reducing horsepower by over ten percent and then refusing to do anything about it. If a manufacturer says "this is a good thing for your device/product", the vast majority will not question it. It would be unusual for a customer to second-guess the manufacturer about a "free" update.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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