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Apple To Face Lawsuit For iMessage Glitch 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the false-barriers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard about iPhone users switching over to Android-powered phones and no longer being able to receive text messages from friends and family still using iPhones. Well, a woman with exactly this issue has filed a lawsuit against Apple, complaining that '[p]eople who replace their Apple devices with non-Apple wireless phones and tablets are "penalized and unable to obtain the full benefits of their wireless-service contracts."' To be specific, '[t]he suit is based on contractual interference and unfair competition laws.' She is seeking class action status and undetermined damages."
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Apple To Face Lawsuit For iMessage Glitch

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  • Re:good (Score:3, Informative)

    by ernest.cunningham (972490) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:58AM (#47023843) Homepage

    What a ridiculous statement. In some markets, SMS messages cost for each and every one a non insignificant amount. An iPhone user is notified if the iMessage is not delivered. You can also choose in the message settings on your iPhone to automatically send via sms if iMessage delivery failed. Some people wouldn't want that to happen so it is a user choice. Apple shouldn't be held responsible because some people are incompetent to read that their iMessage was not delivered.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:13AM (#47023887)

    The people sending you messages are not sending you SMS, they are sending you iMessages. They are sending to your contact phone number, and they have iMessage turned on to save them $$$ when sending texts to other people registered with iMessage.

    Because you used to have an iPhone, and had also turned iMessage on, your phone number is in their database, and so when it's deciding what data channel to use, it looks up the phone number it's about to send to, and if it's listed in the iMessage database, it sends an iMessage to the associated AppleID instead of sending an SMS via the cellular network. This way it doesn't cost them SMS $$$ to send the message.

    When you pulled the SIM from your iPhone, you stupidly failed to turn off iMessage in your settings, and then sync those settings back to the iCloud. As this knowledge base article indicates, it can therefore take up to 45 days before it starts using SMS again: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS... [apple.com]

    Alternately, you can go to http://appleid.apple.com/ [apple.com] and log in with your Apple ID, and manage your account, and disable iMessage that way (typically by removing your mobile phone number, and if you don't have an land line, putting the number in for your (non-mobile) contact number instead.

    Note: Once the message has been sent, either via iMessage, or SMS, from the originating phone, it's sent; you don't get a second shit. It's not like those messages are "stored up" in a system that's capable of sending SMS messages, since the decision was made on the senders iPhone, not on the back end server.

    Basically, it boils down to the former iPhone user being an idiot about disengaging from the additional iPhone associated services that they opt'ed into.

    But never fear, up to 45 days afterward, the switch will happen automatically, as iMessage feeds back into the configuration database that the messages sent to the number have been undeliverable via iMessage. Or, you know, they could log onto http://appleid.apple.com/ [apple.com] now and fix it themselves, which can take up to 24 hours to take effect, because some idiot thought NoSQL was a good idea.

  • Re: Anti-competitive (Score:5, Informative)

    by Your.Master (1088569) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:35AM (#47023959)

    Netscape Navigator cost $49. Look at this article from 1996: http://www.fastcompany.com/277... [fastcompany.com]. Back when Netscape had as dominant a marketshare as IE later had. Note how the author seemed to just assume that a browser than didn't cost any money couldn't be any good.

    Nowadays, Netscape Navigator has been forked a couple times and the surviving branch is called Firefox, and at $0 its price went down significantly.

    The original IE did not come bundled with the OS, it was a free add-on. There was a version for Windows and a version for Mac at this point.

    Fast forward to 1998: http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001... [cnet.com]. January 1998, you will note. Windows 98, which was the first Windows that bundled IE in it, wouldn't be released until May 1998. So it would be difficult to argue that bundling had anything to do with it.

    Later, Opera would follow suit, going from a price of $39 to also offering an ad-supported version in 2000: http://archive.today/201205291... [archive.today]. It only went ad-free 5 years later. At this time, people were getting sick of IE6, since it once was a decent browser (seriously!) but it had been stagnant far too long. However Firefox was starting to rise and it was taking all the people Opera could have gotten.

  • by Jason Whitehurst (3642727) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:51AM (#47024015)
    As an IT Architect, who daily works with and for those with varying degrees of technical skills, I would disagree that the user is "an idiot". The steps you mention will certainly address the issue no doubt. What is in question is if the layperson should be aware of these steps and be capable of undertaking them "if" they forget to disable iMessage. What a class action lawsuit will do is force Apple to put in checks that look at the IMEI of the phone each time an iMessage is sent and the ack isn't received by the server from the phone in x amount of time. There is a different error message for an IMEI either offline or registered to a new user than one where the phone is simply unavailable. I can think of 5 different ways Apple can identify the device changed to a non Apple device. They haven't fixed this issue on purpose. Creating an issue like this undoubtedly ensures a percentage of users return their Android phones and get another Apple device to fix the texting issue thereby ensuring Apple revenue. You can bet Apple will weigh the cost of the suit versus the customer retention revenue and either pay out and leave it the way it is or fix the problem. There's no doubt it is a problem because it's not automated and the courts will rule in favor of the user because the process is not automated.
  • Re:Anti-competitive (Score:1, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:56AM (#47024027) Homepage

    Apple doesn't make it hard. She just didn't follow instructions prior to selling her device and she hasn't followed instructions after selling her device to fix it. The hard part is pure fiction.

  • Re:Anti-competitive (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:57AM (#47024031) Homepage

    Microsoft got slammed not for making it free but for claiming it was so integrated into the operating system that it could not be removed.

  • Re: Anti-competitive (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:59AM (#47024033) Homepage

    No it wasn't. Netscape Communicator was a commercial package that cost. The charged for both the browser and the server.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @04:02AM (#47024047)

    I have an iphone. I never turned on any setting related to imessages. I still received imessages from other iphone users and would be pretty annoyed if the communication failed because of switching to a new phone.

    It's turned on by default if you set up iCloud services, which people generally do to sync their address book, apps, and other content via "the cloud". That in turn is tuned on by default if you have push notifications turned on at all (which requires an Apple ID, and is how iMessage notifications happen, generally quicker than SMS notifications over the cellular providers networks (and the carrier bridge, if the sender and recipient aren't subscribed with the same carrier in the same geographic region).

    Not only that, they is no indication that messages aren't being delivered.

    There's a visual indicator on the sender's phone of a green vs. a blue "talk bubble" background color to indicate something sent via iMessage vs. SMS. Yeah, this isn't terrifically called out.

    The notification will occur after the 45 days have elapsed (actually, it depends on when they run the batch job; it's generally 28 days +/- 14 days). But yeah, the notification is internal to the system.

    I'll note for the record that SMS message delivery is also not acknowledged, so SMS messages, like iMessage messages, are pretty much like UDP datagrams, no matter how you slice things.

    Poor setup on Apples part and clearly designed to hook people in.

    I think it was more a cultural blind spot; in order to anticipate this being a problem, they'd have to consider the idea that someone might want to use a phone other than an iPhone, which is kind of unthinkable if you are an engineer whose livelihood is tied to building iPhone services... "Why in heck would anyone want to use software other than the software I wrote, which is the niftiest software evar?".

    They have a settings mechanism on the iPhone that would take care of this, but if you dropped your iPhone in a toilet and killed it, you wouldn't be able to use that if instead of buying a replacement iPhone, ho used something else.

    There's the online mechanism via appleid.apple.com, as previously noted, but I think that's a workaround. For number portability to another phone, which generally comes with a carrier contract and a new SIM (or a CDMA ID), they'd get the notification through the phone number portability act due to the carrier contract (this is half the source of the 45 days for the automatic cutover), but slamming the SIM around between phones that are iPhones and non-iPhones, there's really no network notifications that take place back to Apple that the change has occurred.

    One possible workaround, and I will bet it's the one that gets put in place, should this suit be considered to have merit, rather than being a user error (it's definitely a user error, and Apple isn't really responsible for third party equipment not having the notification back to the Apple ID to dissociate it) would be to note failure to contact on the iMessage sends more promptly, and, worst case secondary settlement, probably retransmit them via SMS gateway.

    This last is unlikely to happen, since it'd need to forge the source address as the original senders phone #, rather than the gateway, which would require additional agreements with all the carriers. I'm going to guess that the carriers won't be very cooperative in this, since they made about $10B last year in SMS charges worldwide, which is why Facebook was willing to pay $19B for "WhatsApp". Why cooperate with someone who is trying to disrupt your business model and reduce your profits, after all?

  • Re:good (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @04:09AM (#47024061) Homepage

    It was on the iPhone you got rid of. Now you have to go to support.apple.com and let Apple know you no longer want your old phone / number associated with your iCloud account. That takes about 30 seconds.

    The people sending you texts though have the right to whatever behavior they want.

  • Re:Anti-competitive (Score:5, Informative)

    by Splab (574204) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @05:02AM (#47024215)

    Arh 'murcian, cause what we do is what everyone else are doing.

    Text prices outside the US was definitely not driven anywhere by Apple, they have been plummeting for ages - having multiple carriers did that, not some shiney toy.

  • Re:Anti-competitive (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kaenneth (82978) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @06:38AM (#47024433) Homepage Journal

    And it WAS tightly integrated, Windows back then was a mess that made cooked spaghetti look tiny.

    A Specific Example:

    The Help system required Internet Explorer, to render documentation.
    Internet Explorer required the TCP/IP stack, to go to non-local pages.
    TCP/IP required the Help system, to explain what a DNS server, Default Gateway, etc. was.

    Windows, pre-Vista was riddled with circular dependencies like that, where every piece depended on others in a loop.

    Microsoft has been redesigning Windows since then in Layers, and no (new) module is allowed to have a dependency in a higher or equal layer.

    So NOW, yes, they can flip IE on and off like a switch; but back then, it was an insane design change to make under the given time pressure.

    And do you know how many Copies of XP 'n' (the one without IE) were sold?

    Less than 2,000. Mostly by mistake, by people who didn't know what they were buying.

    Noone actually wanted it, they just wanted to screw the big American corporation.

  • Re:good (Score:5, Informative)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:29AM (#47024701)

    Certainly a page on Apple's website explaining this would be useful.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/ts... [apple.com]

    http://www.samsung.com/us/supp... [samsung.com]

    http://www.htc.com/www/support... [htc.com]

    but still everyone is going to say how people don't read emails from companies....

    In the last ignorant rant about this posted just a day or so before this story, it was pointed out that their provider DID in fact send them an email that told them what they had to do when they switched phones.

    At some point, the user has to actually pay attention to what they are doing and put some personal effort into it.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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