Apple and Samsung accused in Italy for planned obsolescence

- Adrian Ungureanu

The Italian authorities are suspecting Apple and Samsung for planned obsolescence via software updates, that make their phones drop in performance, creating the need for replacing the devices with new ones.

Planned obsolescence is a prohibited practice in many countries. Companies use such techniques to ensure a continuous flow of sales, making sure that new products will have buyers. Practically, the lifespan of a device is artificially limited. In some cases the devices simply stop working.

Perhaps the only case in which planned obsolescence is really useful, when we talk about electronic devices, would be the planned obsolescence of lithium batteries. After a certain number of charging cycles, the battery is “programmed” to stop recharging. After some time, batteries are no longer performing very well by their nature, and overloading them may result in overheating, which could lead to enormous stress on the protective coatings. If the coatings fail, lithium batteries become very dangerous, as lithium is very flammable when in contact with the air.

But reducing device performance, such as limiting the CPU performance, as Apple did for old iPhone with aging batteries, is not a practice allowed in many countries.

The Italian anti-trust authorities are investigating the practices of the two tech giants, after Italian customers are claiming that both Apple and Samsung used software updates to slow down the performance of their handsets.

The allegations are pretty serious, and if it turns out to be true, it can lead to serious financial penalties that might bother even two big companies like Apple and Samsung. Not the mention what will happen on a global scale if other countries will take similar measures.

Obviously, after the official announcement made by the Italian authorities, the reactions of the two giants were prompt, both denying the allegations.