It should have been a good Christmas for Apple. Millions of happy Apple fans were likely to unwrap one of their products on Christmas Day. But just a week before, Apple got a present it really didn’t want. The news broke that they had been releasing updates which slowed down the performance of older phones.
The reason for doing this is that as lithium batteries age, their performance gets worse. If you keep on putting the same demands on them, there is a double risk – they may degrade faster and need to be replaced, or in an extreme case, they could fail, possibly disastrously. So, there is a definite logic in trying to limit those demands to keep the user physically safe.
However, it’s a difficult concept to sell. Consider if an automotive manufacturer were to do the same thing with your electric car. If you bought the car on the basis that it had a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 200 miles, you’d probably be rather irate if, twelve months later, you discovered that they’d decided to restrict the top speed to 35mph, in order to ensure that the range didn’t fall below 200 miles. But that’s what the headline claims against Apple are implying – that unbeknownst to the users, software updates are deliberately throttling back the phone’s performance. The electric car example above is not a valid comparison, but to understand why requires a level of technical knowledge that few journalists or lawyers possess. They’d rather cast Apple as the villain, turning this into an Applegate conspiracy. Viva fake news.