Italy's antitrust watchdog is investigating Apple and Samsung over 'planned obsolescence' allegations

J. Scott Applewhite

J. Scott Applewhite

On Jan. 18, the Italian watchdog said it has started investigating allegations that Apple and Samsung had deployed software updates to slow their smartphones to force customers to buy new handsets. The US company was forced to admit in December that it intentionally slowed down older models of its iPhones over time, sparking concerns it was unfairly nudging consumers to upgrade.

Doing so infringes on several articles of Italy's consumer codes, according to AGCM, and Apple and Samsung could be fined millions if found guilty. Italy's antitrust body said it was looking into complaints that the company released software updates that slow phones and encourage consumers to buy new models.

Lawsuits have been filed against Apple in California, New York and IL alleging the company defrauded users by slowing down devices without warning.

Italy's investigation comes just a day after Tim Cook announced that Apple would offer users the ability to disable performance throttling at the risk of unexpected shutdowns.

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The Italian probe follows an investigation launched this month into Apple in France over suspected "planned obsolescence" in some of its iPhone models. "We will tell somebody we're slightly reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have a sudden restart, and if you don't want it you can turn it off".

Of note, the Italian investigation doesn't mention the specific instance of Apple throttling performance in the case of aging batteries.

"Samsung does not provide the software updates to reduce the product performance over the life cycle of the device".

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