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 inSuperior 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'sperformance 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).