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A Prosecutor in France has launched a Preliminary Investigation into Apple's alleged planned Obsolescence of its Products


Update: A U.S. Senator is now requesting that Apple answer specific questions about slowing iPhones and more.


On December 28, Patently Apple posted a report about Apple being hit with a lawsuit over slowing iPhones in France by an environmental group called Halte à l'Obsolescence Programmée (HOP - Stop Planned Obsolescence). The attention of their story has given rise to a French prosecutor launching a preliminary investigation of U.S. tech giant Apple over alleged deception and planned obsolescence of its products following a complaint by a consumer organization, a judicial source said on Monday.


The investigation, opened on Friday, will be led by French consumer fraud watchdog DGCCRF, part of the Economy Ministry, the source said.


Apple acknowledged last month that it takes some measures to reduce power demands - which can have the effect of slowing the processor - in some older iPhone models when a phone's battery is having trouble supplying the peak current that the processor demands.


The French watchdog's preliminary investigation could take months, and depending on its findings, the case could be dropped or handed to a judge for an in-depth investigation.


Under French law, companies risk fines of up to 5 percent of their annual sales for deliberately shortening the life of their products to spur demand to replace them.


An Apple spokeswoman in the United States declined to comment on the French investigation, pointing to a Dec. 28 statement in which the company apologized over its handling of the battery issue and said it would never do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product. For more on this read the full report here.


In October Patently Apple posted a report about France's President reading Apple's CEO the riot act about taxes their required to pay France going forward. Then Ireland made it known it wouldn't back such a tax plan. The EU needs unanimous support of national governments within the EU to pass such measures. The EU began to legally create a work around. Obviously the EU is a form of dictatorship and not a democracy. If a member state doesn't fall in line, the EU will simply change the rules. Until the law is changed, France sees an opportunity to grab 5% of Apple's income over the battery issue. France is determined to get money from Apple one way or another.


With the world watching, will the French prosecutor be swayed by the number of class actions against Apple or truly investigate the facts? Though at the end of the day, don't be surprised if the case is eventually fed up the food chain for a phony "in-depth investigation" in a move to finally get that 5% penalty on Apple's income.


Update: Many news sites are now reporting that The Wall Street Journal has learned that Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Apple's CEO Tim Cook outlining several questions about how Apple came to the decision to slow down iPhones in conjunction with battery wear.


Specifically, Mr. Thune asked how Apple has tracked customer complaints of processing performance and if Apple has explored offering rebates to customers who paid full price for a battery replacement before the company offered discounted rates last month. Thune further asked if Apple’s proposed solutions have prompted additional criticism from some customers, particularly its decision not to provide free replacement batteries. Thune requested answers from Apple by Jan. 23.


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