In a rare appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology Thursday, executives from Apple Canada Apple Inc. admitted that they intentionally slowed down the software on older model iPhones.
However, the representatives in attendance from Apple said the slowdown was necessary to avoid unexpected shutdowns related to what they called “battery fatigue.” Many consumers have responded with skepticism to the slowdown, reading Apple's move as a way to stir up demand for newer iPhone models.
"We don't think we miscommunicated anything at any time,” said Jacqueline Famulak, Manager of Legal and Government Affairs at Apple Canada. "We apologized because our consumers didn't hear directly from us" about the slowdown.
Tensions flared during the committee meeting when one Member of Parliament, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, demanded that Apple Canada disclose any and all internal communications, opinions or advice given to Apple Canada or its American parent company regarding whether the source of the iPhone performance problems should be made public. Apple's lawyer, Simon Potter, rejected that idea.
"I'm not going to make that undertaking," said Mr. Potter. "If the committee wants to make a direction about things, we'll reconsider. But the fact is, as people here know, Apple is exposed to a number of class actions in the United States."
Apple is currently being targeted in four class action lawsuits in Canada and 50 in the U.S. The legal actions claim the company misled customers into believing their phones were close to the end of their lifecycles, forcing them to buy new phones or new batteries.
In response to all the criticism, Apple has said that it will cut the price of a battery replacement in Canada by $64, bringing the cost down to $35 through 2018.