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Italy's Consumer Watchdog Officially Launched Proceedings against Apple and Samsung Regarding Product Obsolescence

1 cover Apple in the spotlight


Apple has been in the spotlight since the year began over their battery issue which has resulted in 45 official class actions and 5 more pending outside of the U.S. Yesterday Apple was in the spotlight for announcing their $350 Billion investment in the U.S. due to the Republican's new tax laws that allowed Apple to bring back their money parked overseas at a fair rate. Yet one day later and five more class action were filed against them and Italy's antitrust body confirmed today that it had opened a probe into allegations that Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd have used software updates to slow their mobile phones and push clients into buying new handsets. It's the first time Samsung has been put into the same boat as Apple.


Reuters reports today that "Italy's antitrust body said on Thursday it had opened a probe into allegations that Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd used software updates to slow their mobile phones and push clients into buying new handsets." This is considered 'Planned Obsolescence' by definition.


Apple and Samsung are suspected of orchestrating "a general commercial policy taking advantage of the lack of certain components to curb the performance times of their products and induce consumers to buy new versions", the watchdog said.


The watchdog said in a statement that the two companies had not told clients that the updates might have a negative impact on the performance of their phones.


It said the U.S. and South Korean firms might have infringed four separate articles of the national consumers' code. If found guilty, the two companies risk multi-million euro fines."


With Italy's econonomy being bad with their poor tripling in a decade and was on the verge of collapse in 2016, hitting rich tech companies wallets is an easy target.


The watchdog AGCM has the task of enforcing both Italian and European consumer protection laws. Today they published a statement which confirms the news. The statement below is a 'Bing' Translation:


AGCM * "initiated proceedings against SAMSUNG and APPLE for SOFTWARE updates of smartphones"


"As a result of Consumer Reports and a preliminary investigation activity, the authority has decided to initiate two separate procedures for unfair commercial practices vis-a-vis the companies of the Samsung Group and the Apple group operating in Italy.


In particular, the professionals would put in place a general commercial policy aimed at exploiting the shortcomings of certain components in order to reduce the performance of their products over time and to induce consumers to buy new versions of them; They would also be proposed to customers software updates of their mobile phones without reporting the possible consequences of the same update and without providing sufficient information to maintain an adequate level of performance These devices, promoted and purchased for their specifications and high technological characteristics.


Such behaviour may result in violations of articles 20, 21, 22 and 24 of the consumer code.


The authority has for this purpose carried out inspection investigations at the offices of the professionals, for which it has availed itself of the collaboration of the special nucleus antitrust of the Guardia di Finanza, assisted for the technical profiles of the operations by the military of the nucleus Special technological fraud of the same body."


A number of handset makers Including Samsung, LG and Lenovo's Motorola have already made statements on this matter. Lenovo stated recently that "We do not throttle CPU performance based on older batteries."


Apple's CEO appeared in an interview on ABC News last night where in-part he blamed iPhone users for the current crisis while saying that the company is working on an iOS update that will allow users to opt out of their feature that purposely slows down the battery to maintain device performance.


Whether Apple will be able to put the genie back in the bottle on this issue is unknown at this time. Yet one thing is for sure, Apple's new SVP of Legal and Global Security, Katherine Adams will experience a baptism by fire at Apple having to deal with a flood of class actions and government inquires at home and abroad.


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