Competition Authority of Italy announced in a statement that it would fine Apple and Samsung Electronics $11.5 million and $5.7 million respectively for the software updates which cause severe troubles and reduce the functionality of some phones. The decision came after accusations were made that the manufacturers encourage OS updates for older phones which end up slowing the phones so that users buy new devices.
The authority also accused the tech giants of ‘unfair commercial practices in violation of Articles 20, 21, 22, and 24 of the Consumer Code about the release of some firmware updates for their mobile phones causing serious malfunctions and significantly reduced their performance. This encouraged speeding up the replacement of older phones with more recent products. They also said that the firm forced its customers for the problematic upgrades by “insistently proposing to proceed with the download.”
— Autorità Antitrust (@antitrust_it) October 24, 2018
Samsung also prompted Galaxy Note 4 owners to install a new version of Google’s Android OS which was intended for the 7 model. That upgrade then caused the devices to go sluggish. At the same time, Apple also recommended its iPhone 6 customers to install an operating system which was meant for the recent 7 model. This upgrade also created issues for the older version of iPhones. Italy’s competition authority said that there was a “significant information asymmetry of consumers vis-a-vis the producers – to install software updates that are not adequately supported by their devices, without adequately informing them, nor providing them with an effective way to recover the full functionality of their devices.”
Samsung was also accused of implementing high repair costs for out-of-warranty devices for the malfunctions which were caused due to the suggested upgrades. The authority said that Apple did not provide its clients with adequate support options once the legal warrants expired and also failed to inform consumers about the crucial information regarding the lithium batteries which resulted in the overall low performance of the smartphone. The authority said that the companies were given the “maximum prescribed fines” due to the size of the company and also because the allegations are serious.
The official statement of the Italy organisation stated, “Both companies will also be required to publish an amending declaration on the Italian page of their websites informing about Authority’s resolution with a link to its assessment decision.” Samsung denied the accusations, and in a statement, a spokesperson said, “Samsung did not issue any software update that reduced the Galaxy Note 4’s performance. In contrast, Samsung has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible.”