Google wasn’t the only company facing problems in court this week. A lawsuit [pdf] filed in San Diego brought Apple up on allegations that the company purposely put the kibosh on the iPhone 3G and 3Gs by sending out a mass iOS 4 upgrade that rendered the older phones slow and buggy - forcing users to upgrade to an iPhone 4.
Biana Wofford, the plaintiff who filed the suit hopes that the lawsuit will escalate into a class action lawsuit to provide benefits for more iPhone 3G and 3GS users that suffered from the problem.
Wofford’s discontent lies in the fact that Apple originally marketed the iOS 4 as an upgrade for the iPhone 3G and 3GS just days before the iPhone 4 was released. This "upgrade" caused users multiple problems including extremely slow and buggy performance on the iPhone 3G.
Aside from compatibility issues, the iPhone 3G didn’t get all the features that were available on iOS 4 when running on iPhone 4. After upgrading her phone, Wofford described her iPhone 3G as, "a device with little more use than that of a paper weight."
What made the situation worse was that Apple made it exceedingly difficult to downgrade back to previous operating systems. Even if a user wanted to revert back to an older operating system, it would require jailbreaking the phone, something that would void all warranties and violate iPhone user agreements.
"Even though Apple has actual knowledge of thousands of complaints from iPhone 3G/3GS consumers, Apple does not allow for those same users/consumers of third generation devices to download and re-install earlier and optimized iOS3.x operating system without resorting to 'hacker' tactics that will void Apple warranties and violate iPhone user agreements," Wofford wrote.
When Apple sends out an operating system update, users will update based on company trust.
When a recommended upgrade causes problems with a product, users expect the company to fix the situation.
Based on this assumption, Wofford believes that Apple sent out the iOS 4 upgrade in order to render many iPhone 3G and 3GS useless and to prompt users to upgrade to the iPhone 4. Many people went ahead and purchased the iPhone 4 simply because they wanted a phone that worked with all the added features of the iOS 4 operating system, rather than their slow, buggy, relic: the iPhone 3G and 3GS running on iOS 4.
If proved true, Apple will be facing false advertising and unfair competition charges, which may result in restitution and damages for Wofford and other class actions members.
Although this is not the first case to pop up against Apple and iPhone related issues, it will certainly not be the last. iPhone users pay for a certain level and quality of service. When Apple sent out an upgrade that caused problems and diminished service, and then made it exceedingly hard to revert to an older operating systems, sent up some serious red flags.
Only time will tell how the company will react but violators of California’s Unfair Competition Act can face monetary fines based on the amount of violations. With the amount of iPhone 3G and 3GS users that upgraded, this could result in the company paying a boatload of cash.