Apple: You can't sue us for slowing down your iPhones because you, er, invited us into, uh, your home... we can explain

We're like a building contractor, explains Cupertino. More like vampires, thinks rest of world

Apple is like a building contractor you hire to redo your kitchen, the tech giant has argued in an attempt to explain why it shouldn't have to pay customers for slowing down their iPhones.

Addressing a bunch of people trying to sue it for damages, the iGiant's lawyers told [PDF] a California court this month: "Plaintiffs are like homeowners who have let a building contractor into their homes to upgrade their kitchens, thus giving permission for the contractor to demolish and change parts of the houses."

They went on: "Any claim that the contractor caused excessive damage in the process sounds in contract, not trespass."

That somewhat bizarre argument came in response to yet another lawsuit against Apple for releasing an iOS update that slows down the processor in older iPhones to reduce the electronics' power draw, and thus avoid rapidly draining the handhelds' weary batteries. The OS secretly stalls the CPU cores to prevent the device from suddenly hitting zero-percent battery charge, and shutting down unexpectedly.

In this particular case in the US, the plaintiffs argue that Apple damaged their phones by effectively forcing them to install software updates that were intended to fix the battery issues. They may have "chosen" to install the updates by tapping on the relevant buttons, but they did so after reading misleading statements about what the updates were and what they would do, the lawsuit claims.

Nonsense! says Apple. You invited us into your house. We did some work. Sorry you don't like the fact that we knocked down the wall to the lounge and installed a new air vent through the ceiling, but that's just how it is.

Ignoring for a second the fact that users also bought their "house" from Apple, there is another scenario in which you are powerless to intervene once you have invited someone into your house: vampires.

But that's not the only disturbing image to emerge from this lawsuit. When it was accused of damaging people's property by ruining their batteries, Apple argued – successfully – in court that consumers can't reasonably expect their iPhone batteries to last longer than a year, given that its battery warranty runs out after 12 months. That would likely come as news to iPhone owners who don't typically expect to spend $1,000 on a phone and have it die on them a year later.

Call of Duty

Apple has also argued that it's not under any obligation to tell people buying its products about how well its batteries and software function. An entire section of the company's motion to dismiss this latest lawsuit is titled: "Apple had no duty to disclose the facts regarding software capability and battery capacity."

Of course, the truth is that Apple knows that it screwed up – and screwed up badly. Which is why last year it offered replacement batteries for just $29 rather than the usual $79. Uptake of the "program" was so popular that analysts say it has accounted for a significant drop-off in new iPhone purchases.

Aside from lawmakers in both America and Europe insisting that Apple explain what it did to people's phones, and why it painted a software update as improving overall performance and extending the life of phones when it fact it throttled performance on the devices, it has also been accused of introducing "planned obsolescence" into its product – slowing down old phones in order to encourage people to purchase the latest models. Apple vehemently denies it, but others aren't so sure.

In addition to this lawsuit – which Apple is seeking to have thrown out of court – there is another legal challenge that claims the Silicon Valley giant broke American hacking laws, in particular the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). "Apple violated [the CFAA] by knowingly causing the transmission of iOS software updates to plaintiff and class members’ devices to access, collect, and transmit information to devices, which are protected computers as defined in [the CFAA] because they are used in interstate commerce and/or communication," that complaint argued.

Count yourselves lucky

And there's another that contends Apple deliberately kept quiet about its CPU limitation scheme to fraudulently maintain or drive up sales. There may be others, it's hard to keep track of all the ways that people are trying to force Apple to compensate them for messing about with their phones.

Ultimately of course, Apple remains convinced that it's not really your phone at all: Cupertino has been good enough to allow you to use its amazing technology, and all you had to do was pay it a relatively small amount of money.

We should all be grateful that Apple lets us use our iPhones at all. And if it wants to slow them down, it can damn well slow them down without having to tell you because you wouldn't understand the reasons why even if it bothered to explain them to you.

We'll just have to see if the courts agree. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Assange can go to UK Supreme Court (again) to fend off US extradition bid

    Top Brit judges may consider whether an American prison is just too much

    Julian Assange has won a technical victory in his ongoing battle against extradition from the UK to the United States, buying him a few more months in the relative safety of Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh.

    Today at London's High Court, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Burnett approved a question on a technical point of law, having refused Assange immediate permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The WikiLeaker's lawyers had asked for formal permission to pose this legal conundrum about Assange's likely treatment in US prisons to the Supreme Court:

    Continue reading
  • They see us Cinnamon Rolling, they're rating: GeckoLinux incorporates kernel 5.16 with familiar installation experience

    A nice, clean community distro that works well

    Most distros haven't got to 5.15 yet, but openSUSE's downstream project GeckoLinux boasts 5.16 of the Linux kernel and the latest Cinnamon desktop environment.

    Some of the big-name distros have lots of downstream projects. Debian has been around for decades so has umpteen, including Ubuntu, which has dozens of its own, including Linux Mint, which is arguably more popular a desktop than its parent. Some have only a few, such as Fedora. As far as we know, openSUSE has just the one – GeckoLinux.

    The SUSE-sponsored community distro has two main editions, the stable Leap, which has a slow-moving release cycle synched with the commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise; and Tumbleweed, its rolling-release distro, which gets substantial updates pretty much every day. GeckoLinux does its own editions of both: its remix of Leap is called "GeckoLinux Static", and its remix of Tumbleweed is called "GeckoLinux Rolling".

    Continue reading
  • Running Windows 10? Microsoft is preparing to fire up the update engines

    Winter Windows Is Coming

    It's coming. Microsoft is preparing to start shoveling the latest version of Windows 10 down the throats of refuseniks still clinging to older incarnations.

    The Windows Update team gave the heads-up through its Twitter orifice last week. Windows 10 2004 was already on its last gasp, have had support terminated in December. 20H2, on the other hand, should be good to go until May this year.

    Continue reading
  • Throw away your Ethernet cables* because MediaTek says Wi-Fi 7 will replace them

    *Don't do this

    MediaTek claims to have given the world's first live demo of Wi-Fi 7, and said that the upcoming wireless technology will be able to challenge wired Ethernet for high-bandwidth applications, once available.

    The fabless Taiwanese chip firm said it is currently showcasing two Wi-Fi 7 demos to key customers and industry collaborators, in order to demonstrate the technology's super-fast speeds and low latency transmission.

    Based on the IEEE 802.11be standard, the draft version of which was published last year, Wi-Fi 7 is expected to provide speeds several times faster than Wi-Fi 6 kit, offering connections of at least 30Gbps and possibly up to 40Gbps.

    Continue reading
  • Windows box won't boot? SystemRescue 9 may help

    An ISO image you can burn or drop onto a USB key

    The latest version of an old friend of the jobbing support bod has delivered a new kernel to help with fixing Microsoft's finest.

    It used to be called the System Rescue CD, but who uses CDs any more? Enter SystemRescue, an ISO image that you can burn, or just drop onto your Ventoy USB key, and which may help you to fix a borked Windows box. Or a borked Linux box, come to that.

    SystemRescue 9 includes Linux kernel 5.15 and a minimal Xfce 4.16 desktop (which isn't loaded by default). There is a modest selection of GUI tools: Firefox, VNC and RDP clients and servers, and various connectivity tools – SSH, FTP, IRC. There's also some security-related stuff such as Yubikey setup, KeePass, token management, and so on. The main course is a bunch of the usual Linux tools for partitioning, formatting, copying, and imaging disks. You can check SMART status, mount LVM volumes, rsync files, and other handy stuff.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022