Apple and Samsung have each been hit with multimillion-euro fines over the “planned obsolescence” of some of their phones.
In a first-of-its-kind ruling, antitrust regulators in Italy said the companies encouraged users to install operating system updates that slowed down older phones, effectively encouraging them to buy newer models.
Samsung was fined €5 million for encouraging Galaxy Note 4 users to install a new version of Android that slowed down their phones. The company plans to appeal, Reuters reports.
The company’s smartphone software updates have not previously been questioned, according to the Guardian. “Samsung did not issue any software update that reduced the Galaxy Note 4’s performance,” the company said in a statement. “In contrast, Samsung has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible.”
Apple was similarly fined for encouraging iPhone 6 users to install a newer version of iOS. The smartphone giant was fined an additional €5 million for failing to provide “essential” information about the phones’ lithium batteries, including how long they typically last, and how to maintain and replace them. Apple didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.
The company has acknowledged that it slowed down phones with older batteries so they wouldn’t suddenly turn off, though it’s since apologized and cut the cost of replacing the batteries. It’s also allowed users to turn off the reduced speed and see more information in iOS about battery status.
The Italian fair trade regulators, who began their investigation in January, said that both companies “will also have to publish an amending declaration on the Italian page of their website informing them of the Authority’s decision with the link to the assessment order.”
A similar investigation is still ongoing in France, where it’s illegal to shorten a product’s life span to boost sales, the Guardian reports. Apple has also faced questions from the U.S. senate over the issue, as well as more than 60 separate lawsuits, which have been ordered to be consolidated into a single suit in the Northern District of California.
The EU and its constituent countries haven’t been shy about doling out large fines to foreign tech companies over antitrust and privacy issues. Google was fined nearly $5 billion in July by the European Commission over reportedly bundling Google search and Chrome with Android and paying other phone makers to include Google search as a default option. It’s reportedly appealing the fine. The company previously appealed a €2.4 billion fine from the same regulator over prioritizing its price comparison engine in search results matching products for sale.
Phone chip maker Qualcomm was also fined $1.2 billion in January over allegations it offered Apple incentives not to buy from competitors and also announced plans to appeal. And Facebook said last year it would not appeal a roughly $122 million fine after the European Commission said it misled the body on whether it would link Facebook and WhatsApp account data when seeking approval to buy the messaging service.