- Apple apologized to customers for making software changes that slowed down older iPhones in order to extend their battery life. The company cut the price of replacement batteries to $29 from $79 for customers who own an iPhone 6, 6s, SE or 7 in response. The out-of-warranty battery replacements will be available later this month through the end of 2018, per a blog post by the company.
- The rare apology followed a wave of complaints from consumers and technology analysts who noticed slower performance in older iPhones. Apple admitted it intentionally throttled the performance on phones with older batteries to prevent them from unexpectedly shutting down, spurring more complaints for not disclosing the practice earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- Apple plans to include an update in its mobile operating system that will show more information about a battery's health. While the apology might help on the public relations front, legal issues are another matter. Apple now faces a number of lawsuits over the issue from iPhone owners in California, New York and Illinois. Customers in Israel and a French consumer rights group also filed class action suits in recent weeks.
Apple's apology and discounted battery offer is a begrudging attempt to repair its sullied image after making changes to its mobile operating system without telling people that the slower performance was intentional. The incident has led to more questions about the quality of its brand and phones, which are priced as luxury devices.
Though Apple continues to insist that it's never artificially slowed down phones other than to aggressively manage phone performance for maximizing battery lifespan, the months-long secrecy about the change to iOS only fueled theories that Apple plans the obsolescence of its older products in order to drive sales. This is especially apparent as the smartphone market reaches saturation and competitors improve their own handset quality to stay afloat amid Apple's dominance. Shipments of iPhones peaked at 231 million units in 2015 and fell to 216 million units in 2017, according to Bloomberg. Analysts last month lowered shipment estimates of its newest phone, the iPhone X, for Q1 2018, citing signs of lackluster demand at the end of the holiday shopping season.
Apple rarely apologizes for performance issues or product defects. Co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs in 2010 apologized for an antenna issue on the iPhone 4 that interfered with calls, but defended the company from "Antennagate." Current CEO Tim Cook in 2012 issued a letter of apology in response to complaints about its Maps app.