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Lawsuit accuses Apple of crippling iPhone 3G to boost sales

updated 04:50 pm EDT, Wed November 3, 2010

Overly difficult to rollback to earlier firmware?

A new lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California for San Diego, accuses Apple of intentionally crippling the iPhone 3G in order to push people into buying the iPhone 4. When iOS 4 was released it was marketed as compatible with the 3G, albeit in a form missing key features like multitasking. People began complaining of buggy and lethargic performance as well, however, issues not witnessed by owners of the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Biana Wofford, claims that Apple knew updating a 3G to iOS 4 would render it a "device with little more use than that of a paper weight." She also argues that it is unreasonably difficult to roll back to an earlier version of iOS. "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," the complaint reads.

Specific charges include false advertising and unfair competition. The case is being pursued as a class action, with demand for restitution and damages as penalties. Apple has tried to address problems with the iPhone 3G in later firmware updates, but not with complete success.

by MacNN Staff



  1. bdmarsh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    of course, also fixed by 4.1

    even with 4.0.x with a few settings changes related to indexing, and a couple of reboots, performance was similar to 3.1.3. Also the iPhone 3G was pretty easy to revert to an earlier version (the 3GS was harder).

    While I did upgrade to an iPhone 4 (for many reasons, more ram, much better camera, more storage) my iPhone 3G is now used by my wife who is enjoying it.

  1. ctt1wbw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh yeah, well...

    I'm suing Commodore for crippling the computer and forcing me to buy a new one cuz the Commodore comes to a screaching halt on Windows 95...

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969



    No judge will touch this as a precedent, since it would send a crippling domino effect back through every previous hardware version.

    Now, where did I put those Performa and XserveG5 receipts...

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    this "person" was put up to this. It doesn't sound like there is ANY real evidence of malfeasance on Apple's part.
    A couple days ago I got a settlement in the mail for $10 for some thing I bought in the past. I don't even recall the name of the company. $10!!! And yet the law firm will get millions, sometimes, hundreds of millions for pursuing this. It would make me not want to invent or pursue much of anything. Do these judges ever say tot he complainant, "Sorry Mac, get lost."

  1. JTh

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think there's a lot of merit behind this. I love Apple products, but I am 100% behind the plaintiff. It is not easy to rollback to earlier firmware: Off the top of my head, I don't remember how...and I know it's possible, but it shouldn't require some "hack" you have to download to make iTunes cooperate, as one method I have seen.

    I would have been much happier had Steve said "No" to updating the iPhone 3G, as he did with the first generation.

    The performance of my iphone 3G is absolutely unacceptable, even after turning off Spotlight indexing (a key feature) and installing 4.1. It's nowhere remotely near the speed of the previous OS, just less infuriating than before, and yes, I have plenty of free space. Don't even get me started on how many times I couldn't answer a call because an incoming call locked the phone up.

    I'm usually willing to accept performance tradeoffs given a device's age, but this went beyond unacceptable. I finally gave in and upgraded - I'm fortunate that I can afford to, and I found the IP4 to be a good value.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I disagree with this completely. New OS's will need to take advantage of new hardware. Hence why specs are released. (find me one game, piece of software, or OS that does not have specs released on it)

    I have an iPhone 3g (still) and while 4.0 performance was horrid, 4.1 was much better. And the benefits outweigh the slowness. Only thing thats slow after 4.1 upgrade is getting into text messaging.. Normally cause i have about 40+ messages in there.

    Other than that, it performs fine.

    And lets not forget that no one said you had to upgrade. If your phone worked fine on iOS 3.x, then you should have downgraded (was easy enough to do) or not have upgraded

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nothing new here!

    Rumours have circulated for more than ten years that the same applications running on the same machine would be deliberately made to run slower by updates. Many people queried why installers checked the Gestalt ID (of the machine) even though the OS update installers loaded everything whether it was machine specific or not. Which is to say that all drivers and such like are installed regardless of whether they are actually required. You will still find nVidia drivers on the hard-disk of machines with ATI graphics, for example.

    If an application remains OS compatible, there is no practical reason why it should run slower post update, or is there?

    This lawsuit is far from the first time that people have suggested that Apple tweaks their software to induce people to buy new hardware.

  1. imactheknife

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I understand that buying a phone is pricey and all but getting a phone on a contract is subsidized. Usually you can get a new phone anyways after your contract comes up so who cares? I bought a used 3G and it runs 4.1 just fine. I have no lag and it's responsive. I don't have multitasking...don't need it. People need to get a life and man I would hate to live in the states where it's so annoying with all the times

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Steve Jobs is a genius

    I will have to admit that Steve Jobs is a genius.

    This plan is a lot more effective at boosting sales and market share than the Buy One Get One (BOGO) Free deals for the Androids.

    Just bugger ALL your old phones, make it difficult to downgrade (because Apple users need things simple), then they'll have to buy new ones! Yes that's it! MUHUHAHAHAHAHaaa.

    Hat's off to you Stevie-Boy. You are one smart man.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh what was that

    you iFans were saying?.... Android fragmented? Take a look at your own back yard.

    iPhone 3 & 3G won't run the new software. God knows what percent have jailbroken and won't upgrade. And how many just have not upgraded because they just don't know or couldn't be bothered?

    Not to mention the myriad of iPods that are running all versions of iOS.

    Suck it boys.

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