How should Apple manage its throttling scandal?
Apple has attracted an ardent fan base that few other brands enjoy. But a controversy that has emerged in the last week may be doing some damage to that brand equity.
In the days before Christmas, Apple confirmed that the company implemented an iOS update last year which slows down older phones in some cases, according to CNN Money. Apple claims that the update was implemented to prevent sudden shutdowns users were experiencing and to make more efficient use of older batteries and keep the phones running optimally.
But some customers and critics aren’t sold on the explanation. At least five iPhone owners are suing Apple over the issue, according to NBC. Their contention is that Apple defrauded them by slowing their phones to make them believe they were malfunctioning, leading them to buy entirely new iPhones. They contend that, had they been informed that the battery was the problem, they could have bought a replacement battery rather than a completely new device.
Smartphone manufacturers have successfully dealt with major PR hiccups in the recent past. In 2016, for instance, there were reports that Samsung’s then-new Galaxy Note 7 was prone to bursting into flames because of a battery problem. Samsung moved quickly to address the problem, issuing a full 2.5 million-phone recall despite there only being about 35 reported instances of fires. Despite a brief hit to the stock, the company recovered and the issue quickly disappeared from the news.
But Samsung’s exploding batteries were unintentional, whereas customers are accusing Apple of planning the throttling of its phones to push new sales.
This isn’t the only problem Apple has been facing lately. The company’s new iPhone X has not been as popular as expected, according to USA Today. Apple was expected to ship 30 million devices this quarter but only shipped 25 million, and may be lowering its target sales next quarter from 50 million to 30 million. Some are citing the device’s unusually high price of $999.
And Apple’s other new iPhone, which was released in September, the iPhone 8, did not manage to generate the usual customer enthusiasm associated with new Apple product releases.
- What to do if you think Apple’s slowing down your phone – CNN Money
- Apple slowed iPhones, forcing owners to buy new ones, lawsuit claims – NBC News
- Will the Galaxy Note 7 snafu send Samsung up in flames? – RetailWire
- Downbeat iPhone X sales projections hobble Apple shares – USA Today
- Should shorter lines for the iPhone 8 concern Apple? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Apple’s slowed-iPhone controversy leave a major or minor blemish on its reputation? What steps should the company take to minimize damage from the controversy?