The Apple iPhone Controversy

There has been a conspiracy theory amongst Apple iPhone users that Apple slows down the performance of the older phones. The critics of this policy believe that Apple does this to force the users to get rid of their old phones with performance problems. The move is aimed at forcing users to upgrade to newer models and keep the cash flow coming.

In December 2017, Apple admitted that it has indeed slowed down the performance of some of the older version of these iPhones. As a result, all hell broke loose. Consumer advocacy groups immediately started accusing Apple of following unfair business practices. Many of these groups have filed class-action lawsuits against Apple Inc.

In this article, we will understand the debate around Apple’s actions.

What is the Controversy?

Apple claims that if the older phones make a big power demand from the battery, the battery sends current spikes to the processor. The processor has been designed to protect itself from such current spikes. The reaction of the processor is to shut down the phone to protect the processor and prolong its life. It is for this reason that sudden shutdowns are common amongst iPhones phones that are older. Apple claims that the software upgrade was aimed at making the processor slower. This would mean that the processor would no longer be able to make a big power demand from the battery and the whole process can be avoided. Apple, therefore, claims that its actions were aligned with its values which put the customer’s interest before anything else. Apple has rejected the claims that it purposely slows down the phones to cajole the users into buying newer products.

Ethical Issue

The critics of Apple have called this more of an ethical issue than a business issue. Let’s assume that Apple is indeed right about slowing down the phones. Maybe it does protect the processor of the phones and prolong its life. However, does Apple have the right to unilaterally slow down the performance of the firm? Did they ask the users of iPhone whether they would want their phones slowed down? Apple should have ideally sent a message to users giving them the option to continue with the existing software or upgrade to a newer one if they wish to.

Once users buy the product, Apple does not have any right to meddle with its software without the user’s consent. Hence, even if Apple has slowed down the iPhone with the right intentions, it is still invading the privacy of consumers. Apple is modifying consumers’ devices without their consent! This would be like selling a house to somebody and then later digging up the front yard! Even if the idea was to protect the homeowner from a flood, one first needs to seek permission before digging the front yard.

Earlier Charges against Apple

This is not the first time that Apple has been entangled in legal issues. Earlier the company was facing a lawsuit because it refused to sell replacement batteries for their phones. iPhones are perfectly usable after a couple of years. It is only the lithium-ion batteries that have a limited shelf life. Hence, ideally, Apple should provide its users with the options of replacing the batteries and continue with their older phones whose performance should remain unhampered. Instead, Apple chooses not to provide the batteries. This is not only unethical from an economic standpoint but also negatively impacts the environment. When consumers dump their old phones and buy new ones, they start generating large amounts of electronic waste.

Even the current problem would be completely solved if users could replace their batteries. Slowing down the iPhone is not the only solution that Apple has. It is the most profitable one that Apple choose even though it is against consumer interests.

Negative Impact

Apple Inc. is likely to face setbacks thanks to this controversy. Some of them have been listed below.

  • Consumer Loyalty: Apple sells very expensive products in the premium segment. It therefore heavily relies on its brand image. It is therefore very important for Apple that consumers view it as an ethical company. If they do not view the company in a positive light, there would be no reason for them to pay significant premiums and buy the phone. This confession by Apple has rattled the confidence of even their staunchest supporters. Apple needs to get a public relations team in place to manage this controversy and limit its impact.

  • Secretive Nature: Apple is known for being secretive. Even employees are provided information only when needed. However, after this dispute, the media will try to swoop in on Apple’s policies. If Apple continues to act secretive, they may be viewed in a negative light.

  • Risky Business Practice: Apple is following a very risky business practice. It is true that Apple does have a cult following. However, if people get tired of constantly buying newer and more expensive iPhones they are likely to switch to an Android. When users buy expensive stuff, they want it to be durable. If the phones have to be replaced every couple of years, why not buy a cheaper one!

  • Nefarious Lawsuits: Apple is also sitting on a large pile of cash. Such actions encourage predators to take a shot and try to extract some money from Apple. Apple may have to pay huge compensations to settle the flurry of lawsuits that are coming their way.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


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