Samsung fined $5.7 million for slowing down phones through updates


Both companies deny they deliberately set out to slow down older phones, but the Italian authorities were not persuaded and clearly felt it was a case of "built-in obsolescence" - where products are created to fall apart before they need to in order to drive sales of newer models.

"Apple and Samsung implemented unfair commercial practices", the Italian competition authority said in a statement.

While $5.7 million for Samsung (or $11.5 million for Apple) is essentially chump change, the fine still represents a concerted effort to create a legal precedent that "Batterygate" and the "Samsung slow down" are things which really happen and need to be monitored.

It said: "The two companies have induced consumers to install software..."

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Apple has been a longstanding target of criticism for the way it throttles CPU performance on iPhone models with lower capacity batteries. Apple's solution was to throttle CPUs on older devices, which began with the iOS 10.2.1 update.

Apple actually admitted previous year that it slowed phones down with software, though the company claimed that it was doing it to prevent the phone shutting down unexpectedly due to degradation of their lithium batteries (there's that extra €5m, by the way).

Apple and Samsung have each been hit with multimillion-euro fines over the "planned obsolescence" of some of their phones. The company has said it does this to conserve battery life, but it led to complaints that it's a tactic to force people to shell out for newer phone models.

The ACGM said both companies had been fined the highest possible amount reflecting the severity of their dishonest practices. Both companies were also ordered to display a notice on the Italian versions of their website that informs customers about the fine.

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The antitrust authority said that Samsung did this "without informing them of the serious malfunctions that the new firmware could cause due to greater stress of device's hardware and asking a high fix cost for out-of-warranty repairs connected to such malfunctions".

Samsung pledged nonetheless to cooperate with the Italian authorities. And they did so without explaining the impact of the update, without sufficient support and with no way of restoring the original functionality.

Samsung, on the other hand, hasn't released an official statement yet but we do hope to hear how they will overcome the problem especially considering that they denied the allegations earlier.

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