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Apple: We Would Never Degrade the iPhone Experience To Get Users To Buy New Phones 282

Apple today responded to reports that the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are probing its decision to throttle older iPhones, confirming that the U.S government has asked questions. From a report: Apple said it would never intentionally "degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades." Apple acknowledged in December that it was secretly slowing the speeds of iPhones in an effort to help preserve aging batteries. In response to consumer backlash, the company dropped the price of battery replacements for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus from $79 to $29.
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Apple: We Would Never Degrade the iPhone Experience To Get Users To Buy New Phones

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:08AM (#56039597)

    Seriously there is a much easier alternative. Just do what most other phone makers do and not provide security or bug fixes. Customers will have to buy new phones to avoid not joining botnets and getting hit by drive-by malware. Apple is putting way too much effort in.

    • You forget that most users aren't technically savvy. Most probably don't know what a botnet is.
      • You forget that most users aren't technically savvy. Most probably don't know what a botnet is.

        And I still don't understand how your reply has anything to do with the AC GP??? The GP suggested an alternative that Apple simply stops providing patches and let customers (whoever wants to purchase their products) keep buying a new phone instead.

    • Or they could backport fixes to older OSs and not force people to either upgrade to a new major release to get bug fixes.

      E.g. if you want to get a Meltdown fix and you're on 10.10 Yosemite you need to upgrade to High Sierra 10.13.3. Well if you're on El Capitan there's a fix, but Apple won't let you download El Capitan to install it on current machines, only High Sierra.

      Meanwhile Microsoft patched Windows 7 - they didn't force you to upgrade to 8 or 10.

      Of course in terms of work saying "Upgrade to the lates

      • You mean, you can't download like this? A simple google for download el capitan osx and the first hit was this.

        https://support.apple.com/en-u... [apple.com]

        Now that High Sierra is available, you should upgrade to High Sierra instead of El Capitan. For security and compatibility reasons, Apple always recommends using the latest version of macOS.


        If your Mac doesn't support High Sierra, or you're using Snow Leopard or Lion and would like to upgrade to High Sierra, follow these steps:

        1. Use this link to open the El Capitan p
        • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:34AM (#56040191)

          Hmm, interesting.

          Except when I click the Get button it says

          "We could not complete your purchase.

          This version of OS X 10.11 cannot be installed on this computer."

          This is on a 2012 Macbook Pro running Yosemite. If you read the blurb it says it's for users of Snow Leopard or Lion who want to upgrade to High Sierra - they need to install El Capitan first and then upgrade that.

          However they don't want me upgrading to it - they want me to go straight to HS.

          I'm sure I could get El Capitan, but not necessarily legally.

          • Well, darn, now I look like the silly one.

            I normally get it from the developer portal, just like how I get old versions of windows from msdn... :)

      • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

        You mean Windows 7 that won't work with current and next-generation Intel CPU's?

        https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/... [makeuseof.com]

    • Too bad I already responded to another thread, your level of sarcasm against these idiots is high. Respect!

    • It's a much easier alternative for me as well. I could buy 20 new phones, plus an SD card to keep the same data on each them, for less than the price of a single iPhone. But in reality, I only need to switch phones every 18 months or so - pretty much the same schedule as someone who always gets the new iPhone.
    • by ttsai ( 135075 )

      Seriously there is a much easier alternative. Just do what most other phone makers do and not provide security or bug fixes.

      Is this true? Do iPhones users really believe this? I've had HTC and Samsung phones on T-Mobile for many years, and I've always gotten several updates per year, mostly for security issues.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:10AM (#56039603) Homepage

    Apple only has the best interests of its customers at heart.

    • Ok, here is a business reason.
      Apple normally releases their iPhones annually following the following pattern.
      Flagship phone the first year, an upgrade the next year. iPhone - iPhone 3G - iPhone 4 - iPhone 4s - iPhone 5 - iPhone 5s...
      So for their customers Apple would like them to upgrade their next phone to an other iPhone. However some people like getting the new fancy cool model while others want the upgrade version. So based on their habits that leaves them a 2 year window for someone to consider upgr

    • I wonder how they managed to make that statement with a straight face? https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
      • Oh, that's simple, you see, Apple doesn't slow down phones to intentionally make people upgrade, people wanting to upgrade because their phones are slow is merely a profitable side effect of slowing down their phones for completely valid technical reasons that they can't recite right now because of trade secrets. Furthermore, I'm sure that Apple's spokespeople and Apple's lawyers have had many, many meetings where it was made absolutely clear that Apple has a totally valid technical reason for slowing peop

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      With Apple, the customer is at the center of their concerns.

      So they can fleece him from every angle.

  • by Jahoda ( 2715225 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:10AM (#56039605) Homepage
    Apple: "We would never intentionally degrade the user experience! All that we did was secretly and with no notification to the phone user throttle down the processor depending upon the life of the battery. "
    • by lazarus ( 2879 )

      So, you understand that they throttle up and down the processor all the time for a number of other technical reasons, right? If they ran the CPU cores at full speed all the time your battery would last an hour. Battery management is a HUGE part of the mobile balancing act.

  • Oh, right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:14AM (#56039625)

    That must be why most Macs cannot have their memory upgraded after purchase, or that you need to disassemble 90% of the computer to get to the RAM slots, because it makes for a better user experience... somehow.

    • Re:Oh, right (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:44AM (#56039795)

      Ram is soldered in all the portable machines Apple sell. It's true the iMac Pro has socketed memory but as you point out you need to disassemble the machine to get to it. And the GPU, which is probably the component PC users upgrade most frequently is soldered.

      The CPU and SSDs are upgradeable, assuming you can disassemble the machine and don't mind voiding the warranty but the SSDs are proprietary and even the CPU is apparently a custom device Intel made for Apple.

      https://www.macrumors.com/2018... [macrumors.com]

      Apple is using standard 288-pin DDR4 ECC RAM sticks with standard chips, which iFixit was able to upgrade using its own $2,000 RAM upgrade kit. A CPU upgrade is "theoretically possible," but because Apple uses a custom-made Intel chip, it's not clear if an upgrade is actually feasible. The same goes for the SSDs -- they're modular and removable, but custom made by Apple. Unlike the CPU, the GPU is BGA-soldered into place and cannot be removed.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I seem to recall that they crippled third party SSDs initially too... That's right, essential TRIM support was disabled if it wasn't an official Apple part. They only stopped after customers complained.

        • Yeah, I had to force enable TRIM when I upgraded to an SSD in my 2012 Macbook Pro.

          It's also a bit unclear what would happen if I upgraded that machine from Yosemite to High Sierra. HS has a new file system but that is only supported on Apple SSDs. Does that mean my third party SSD stays on HFS+?

        • They stopped after TRIM support was reliably implemented on SSDs. If you recall, initial SSD implementations of TRIM had some reliability issues. The need for TRIM was not foreseen early enough for the initial implementations to be adequately tested. It is understandable that a manufacturer would want to limit new features on such a fundamentally important part of the system - or at least make them opt-in options. It is not like the SSD manufacturers were writing their firmware for, and testing compatib
    • FYI most recent Mac clones have soldered memory chips and HDDs as well. If you don't like it get another laptop with replaceable RAM.
      Dell XPS 13 - https://www.ifixit.com/Teardow... [ifixit.com] - Buyer beware: Just like in the MacBooks Air and Retina, the RAM in the XPS 13 is soldered to the motherboard, and cannot be replaced. When you're picking out your new laptop, configure what you think it'll need...forever.
      Asus Zenbook - http://gearopen.com/gears/insi... [gearopen.com] - 8GB (!!!) soldered
      etc.
    • Uh, I thought iMacs have accessible memory slots? Are you talking about MacBooks? For those with upgradable memory, removing the screws isn't that tough (and given Apple's inclination for keeping everything smooth and shiny and hidden away, that's to be expected).

  • Then why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:14AM (#56039627)

    Then why did it take several 3rd party sources to confirm what was going on? Why did Apple wait until several 3rd party sources confirmed before they came forward and admitted what was going on? Every step of the way Apple missed the opportunity to get ahead of this and make it a non-issue. Now they want everyone to just take their word for it that there wasn't an ulterior motive? The sad thing is that I expect that many will.

    Either they are playing people for chumps or they are grossly incompetent.

  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:17AM (#56039639)

    ...outside the typical no-so-much-a-conspiracy-theory-anymore side of things, it's quite possible Apple got a HUGE influx of bad batteries that went out into millions of their phone models. I do remember a small window last year about specific models of iPhone 6/6s having recalls for batteries [9to5mac.com], which caused hardware instability (e.g. unexpected shutdowns, phone reboots, etc.).

    If there is anything honest and plausible I'll put my intuition on, it would be that those batteries were FAR reaching outside that. Apple tried a small recall to make it 'look good' but in essence, it was fucking everything on the mobile side. So they tried to cover it up with throttling hacks to preserve the batteries in future iOS releases and got caught by some tech savvy folk on reddit.

    • This sounds like a reasonable explanation but I don't see how a corporation as large as Apple could effectively cover it up for this long. Especially in light of the recent backlash. One disgruntled manager or well placed employee could topple the scheme. Still, I like the theory.
    • ...outside the typical no-so-much-a-conspiracy-theory-anymore side of things, it's quite possible Apple got a HUGE influx of bad batteries

      I don't see how you consider this "honest", the honest thing to do would be to disclose it to the customers. Selling customers a defective product and then covering it up by making it even more defective is pretty far from my definition of honest.

  • ... use flushing toilets.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:21AM (#56039659) Homepage

    I really feel like Apple needs a Jobs infusion, stat.

    The PC lineup has stagnated.
    They don't see the value of continuing the iPod (something Mr. Jobs was passionate about).
    The phones are continuing on a modest growth path in terms of performance/Flash size but nothing disruptive (ie iPhone X falling flat).
    They're dropping the server line.
    Their stores are nice and, to be fair, getting better.

    Mr. Cook has always been a competent CEO but they need somebody who looks at things differently and sees where things can be amazing, not just better.

    • You still want the iPod? The sales of iPod is basically gone, you know that, right?

    • by geek ( 5680 )

      I worked at Apple. Jobs is the one that killed the iPod. They cut the team by a 3rd every year for 3 years before he died. All that was left when he passed a handful of support people.

  • When I read "Apple said it would never intentionally "degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades," I laughed out loud. I wonder if the Apple spokesperson was able to get this out with a straight face. They don't design their phones to make repairs harder either...

  • by DutchUncle ( 826473 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:30AM (#56039721)
    Wording is so important; Apple's wording in this is terrible; they shouldn't ever have mentioned "driving upgrades" at all. Apple should have maintained that it was in their self-interest to make the phones operate as well as possible at all times, and that it was a *policy* decision that "at all times" meant tipping the balance towards stretching the battery life. And that their only mistake was not making this an explicit setting, so that even people with NEW batteries could adjust their performance to extend battery life. ( I wish I could reference the SIGPLAN article in the 1980s that said "This limitation was removed by renaming it as a feature . . ")
  • "Never believe anything until it's been officially denied".

    - Claud Cockburn

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:56AM (#56039891)

    Apple said it would never intentionally "degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades."

    And yet they were caught doing exactly this. And besides that, Apple has sealed in the battery and made the cost / terms of replacement so onerous that it could have no other expected effect than drive customer upgrades.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      And yet they were caught doing exactly this. And besides that, Apple has sealed in the battery and made the cost / terms of replacement so onerous that it could have no other expected effect than drive customer upgrades.

      Yes, phones randomly turning themselves off would be so much better! Hatorade Distortion Field....

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      The batteries aren't sealed in. Two screws, a suction cup to get the tight-tolerance screen up, and you're in. Pentalobe drivers are available at Walmart [walmart.com].

      The batteries do have a removable adhesive tape, similar to 3M Command Adhesive [command.com]. There are couple more screws inside that secure connectors, including the battery connector. That's really all there is to it.

      It takes a couple of tools to replace the battery; I have to use a screwdriver to replace the batteries on my toddler's toys too.

  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1@hot m a il.com> on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:57AM (#56039901)
    If Apple cares so little about supporting users on older phones, why does it put so much time into designing OSes that are compatible with its older phones for years longer than competitors do? Hm?

    I know it's fun to play the conspiracy game and blame a big company, but do you think they would be bothering to spend years on this stuff if they were trying to disable your phone? There are easier ways to do it, just stop writing iOS updates for out of date equipment. But they don't, they keep supporting it, years after other manufacturers or OS teams would.

    [androidpolice.com]http://www.androidpolice.com/2... [androidpolice.com]

    Maybe do a little independent thought before signing onto the lazy conspiracy theory and jumping on the mindless bandwagon?
    • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:13AM (#56040013)
      So they can demonstrate to users that the new features don't work as well on their phone. Seems obvious to me.
      • I see. So they intentionally spend many, many man-years to build in extra functionality to slow down your phone while upgrading all sorts of other features, when they could've just stopped supporting it altogether like other phone makers do, to get you to upgrade? They really are clever and devious!
        • Everything with Apple is a marketing calculation. They probably don't purposefully keep upgrading old devices for this reason, but they probably don't see a downside either. It is relatively cheap to keep an old device upgraded when all you have to worry about is a device in which you controlled every aspect of its design. Certainly not as difficult as what Microsoft does with Windows. So if they can tout a new feature and make it unavailable on an old phone, why not?
          • Really, you think that it's easy to update the iOS for an entire previous generation of phone hardware and keep the full thing working, just to be able to add a slowdown-feature to a small part of the battery / power management algorithms to make people want to upgrade?

            Cmon man, listen to your own bullshit...
    • My old iPhone 3G would like to have a word with you about that "OSes that are compatible with its older phones" claim.

      You're right that I don't know WHY Apple bricked my phone with an OS update, I simply know that they did.

  • Come on, Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:11AM (#56039993)
    Business is business. You, and everybody else, will do whatever is necessary within the law (and without the law, when one can get away with it) to increase your bottom line. It is just a matter of undertaking a cost analysis study on each of you major steps. You know it and we know it. Please spare us the self-virtuous, good-goody statements and do not insult our intelligence, OK?
  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:12AM (#56039997)
    Apple is highly marketing-savvy. If they did something a certain way, you can bet it was discussed and every decision calculated for its effect on the consumer. For them to make the oversight to ask the owner before slowing down the device, they may be able to claim ignorance but I don't buy it.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:17AM (#56040031)
    That me buying 2 new iPhones due to performance degradation is just a happy coincidence, right? And before you ask a they're for my kid. Posting this from a $220 Android that I won't upgrade until 5G gets cheap.
    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      That me buying 2 new iPhones due to performance degradation is just a happy coincidence, right? And before you ask a they're for my kid. Posting this from a $220 Android that I won't upgrade until 5G gets cheap.

      And how much sooner would you have bought those new phones if your old ones randomly turned themselves off. They screwed up by not telling people or making it an optional setting, but it made older phones more usable, not less.

      • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

        And how much sooner would you have bought those new phones if your old ones randomly turned themselves off.

        A lot of folks seem to miss that point.

        Lithium Polymer batteries have a lifespan between 300-500 cycles [googleusercontent.com]. A consumer who bought an iPhone 7 in Sept 2016 can easily be reach the end of his battery's life when the iPhone 8 comes out in Sept 2017. It's coincidence, but the peanut gallery screams "planned obsolescence!" Why does my phone suddenly crash all the time now that the iPhone 8 is out?!?

        The same problem rears its head were Apple to tell you to replace the battery when it starts to go -- it just happens

      • by Straif ( 172656 )

        I don't know but if they told users that they could opt for a $90 battery replacement and keep their phone at it's current performance level how many people do you think would have just opted for the $90 instead of shelling out $1000 for a phone that is just overkill for their needs?

  • by NikeHerc ( 694644 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @10:22AM (#56040069)
    Apple acknowledged in December that it was secretly slowing the speeds of iPhones in an effort to help preserve aging batteries.

    Apple, why would you secretly slow the speeds of iPhones? Something stinks about this and I'm glad you are being investigated!
  • Google has "Do no evil" as a marketing trick. It is much shorter and to the point. Just as much bullshit (I learned when they raped Dejanews way back in 2001) but shorter.

    I am waiting for the company that goes all Newspeak. "We are doubleplus good" But then, why should they? They have bought the politicians and the laws, so they should be allowed to say what is right and what is wrong.

  • That Apple has to be aware that their action would have that impact and that they didn't tell folks (e.g., they hid it) negates that their intention may have been 100% legitimate.

    Their intention can be 100% legitimate but they were aware of the issue and how people would react e.g., this topic has been the popular press for years..

    Air bags have reactive chemicals in them to help them deploy.. Govt. & manufacturers are not intentionally putting harmful reactive chemicals into cars - their intent is to ra

  • ...ourselves humbly apologizing.

  • If they were slowing the phones to preserve battery, then there is zero reason to do so secretly is there ?

    Be upfront with the folks paying $$$ for your hardware and all os well in the world.

    Be all secret about it and you risk pissing your customer base off.

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