Opinion by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Rotten Apple

The iPhone battery ripoff shows Apple for what it really is: a company determined to make bucks at your expense.

rotten apple
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Golly! Some people are excited about being able to take advantage of Apple’s “generous” offer of cheap batteries for earlier-model iPhones. Give me a break. Apple deliberately ripped you off by slowing down out-of-date iPhones. It’s time to stop drinking Cupertino’s Kool-Aid and see Apple for what it really is: rotten.

To get you up to speed if you spent the holiday season having a good time rather than watching technology news: A user discovered that his iPhone 6S was slowing down because its battery could no longer hold a full charge. John Poole, founder of Primate Labs and creator of Geekbench, a cross-platform processor and memory benchmark tool, looked deeper into the battery problem and found that Apple had introduced a function in iOS 10.2.1 that deliberately slowed down iPhones.

Caught red-handed, Apple admitted that, yes, it was deliberately putting the brakes on iPhones with older batteries. But worry not! It’s a feature!

Apple proclaimed:

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

Thanks. I need features like this like I need a hole in my head.

If an iPhone is shutting down because the battery isn’t 100%, how about, oh, I don’t know, telling us that! You know, with an alert like “Your battery needs replacing.”

Instead, all Joe and Jane User knew was that their iPhones were slowing down. “Oh, what to do! I know! Buy a new iPhone!”

It’s all just part of Apple’s tried-and-true sales method of treating its customers like rats to condition them to always buy the newest, i.e., more expensive, products.

Apple claimed in its “apology” for its battery software update that “we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

Yeah. Right. So why did Apple deliver this “feature” in such an underhanded way?

Computerworld’s Evan Schuman, a longtime Apple fan, analyzed Apple’s “apology” for its battery shenanigans in great detail and found it sorely lacking. Apple’s offering a cheaper battery replacement doesn’t cut it for him. Instead, “How about offering a free battery for those impacted? How about changing the warranty terms to support it for five years? How about using much longer-lasting batteries?” Darn good questions!

Some of my friends in the business think this revelation will finally wake Apple customers up and they’ll stop buying iPhones like lemmings every time a new one arrives. Some point to the class-action lawsuits coming Apple’s way.

My buddy Jason Perlow is among those friends. He says that Apple’s “reputation is going to be permanently marred, and it will lose generations of goodwill and loyalty from its customers.”

I don’t think so. When it comes to pure unthinking loyalty to a brand, I’ve never seen anything like those under the spell of Apple’s reality distortion field.

After all, Apple just had its best iPhone year ever. Despite this battery foul-up and the company’s lame apology, despite Apple’s all-time awful Mac security hole, I think Apple will do just fine in 2018.

I think Apple’s fanatic fans will put up with at least one more massive screw-up before they give up on the brand. That may be remarkably foolish of me, but then I don’t pay a grand for a smartphone either.

 
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