France has launched an investigation into Apple following accusations that the company intentionally restricts repair options for its smartphones, potentially rendering them obsolete. The investigation stems from complaints made by France's Halte l'Obsolescence Programme (HOP) association, which argues that Apple's policy of using serialized parts enables the company to control repairs through authorized providers and restrict devices that do not use certified parts. HOP is calling on Apple to ensure the right to repair devices in line with the principles of a true circular economy.
According to Apple Insider, France is probing Apple for "planned obsolescence" to determine if the company deliberately designs iPhones to become outdated by imposing these repair limitations. HOP had previously filed a complaint against Apple in 2017 when it was revealed that the company intentionally slowed down older iPhones with degraded batteries to prevent unexpected shutdowns.
Apple faced legal challenges following the revelation, with critics and plaintiffs arguing that the company's actions pushed users towards purchasing new iPhones, as older models experienced difficulties with the latest applications and iOS updates. Apple defended its actions, stating that the intentional slowing down of older iPhones was necessary to protect the device's electronics.
In 2020, Apple agreed to pay a settlement of $27.4 million for failing to inform iPhone users that software updates could potentially decrease the performance of older devices.
The investigation by France's regulatory authorities will shed light on Apple's repair policies and determine if the company's practices violate consumer rights and contribute to planned obsolescence.