Friday, January 19, 2018

Tim Cook Talks iPhone Batteries

I was not impressed by this interview (via Wojtek Pietrusiewicz):

When asked about the incident, Cook apologized to Apple users who believe that the company deliberately slowed the processors down in older models.

He hypothesized that when Apple released software updates to slow down older devices in older models to keep up with the new features, people may not have been “paying attention” when they explained what it was.

“Maybe we weren’t clear,” he said. “We deeply apologize for anyone who thinks we have some other kind of motivation.”

I’m not sure where the part about keeping up with new features came from. It’s not in the clip, so I’ll give Cook the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t say that nonsense.

However, the part about people not “paying attention” is in the clip, and I don’t find that credible at all. The press coverage of iOS 10.2.1 at the time did not explain this, and there’s some dispute as to whether the press was even told. Customers certainly weren’t.

Adam Engst:

The fact that Apple was doing something to address those shutdowns wasn’t a revelation. The company had said it was looking into the problem and claimed it had implemented a fix in iOS 10.2.1, back in early 2017. There was some dispute as to whether that actually happened since Apple included nothing in the release notes about it at the time (see “Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.3, iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1, and watchOS 3.1.1,” 23 January 2017). Subsequently, however, Apple amended iOS 10.2.1’s release notes to say:

It also improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.

If you didn’t somehow figure out that Apple had amended the release notes and decode that “power management” means they’re slowing down your phone, you weren’t “paying attention.” That’s the message from Apple’s CEO?

The article continues:

Cook said it was “rational” to offer the less expensive battery option -- instead of free batteries -- considering that “most people kind of expect to get a [new] battery at some point in time.”

I don’t think that’s the case, either. Most people didn’t know the batteries could even be replaced. And Apple’s own marketing VP said they wouldn’t need to be:

“Most iPhone users will realize, as most iPod customers realized, that they never needed to replace their batteries,” Joswiak said.

Is Apple’s position now that iPhone customers should expect to have to go to an Apple Store, pay $79, and wait an hour or two for a technician to replace their battery?

Previously: Apple’s Message to Customers About iPhone Batteries and Performance.

Update (2018-02-06): Juli Clover:

In a recent inquiry, Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, asked Apple why there was a discrepancy between the time that the update was introduced and the time when Apple explained what was in the update, a question Apple answered today.

Apple says that iOS users were not immediately informed about the power management features in iOS 10.2.1 because it first needed to confirm that the update successfully solved the problem causing unexpected shutdowns.


In February 2017, we updated our iOS 10.2.1 Read Me notes to let customers know the update “improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns.” We also provided a statement to several press outlets and said that we were seeing positive results from the software update.

Update (2018-02-26): Joe Rossignol:

Apple currently faces 59 putative class actions across 16 district courts in the United States. The total includes 30 before Judge Edward J. Davila in the Northern District of California, where the lawsuits will likely be centralized given their overlapping claims, according to court documents obtained by MacRumors.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

I think the "not paying attention" is about the first PR they release about slowing down the phone.
They explicitly told why they where doing that, but not a single News site retained that info and just publish bad press about "Apple slowing down the iPhone so you have to buy a new one".

@Jean-Daniel It really sounds to me like Cook was referring to the iOS 10.2.1 update a year ago. He makes it sound like people ignored what Apple had done, not that they misinterpreted it.

@Jean-Daniel This would only be the case if the first "when" was an "after".

@Michael: "Is Apple’s position now that iPhone customers should expect to have to go to an Apple Store, pay $79, and wait an hour or two for a technician to replace their battery?"

No, Apple's position is that you should take a leave of absence of 1 week to be able to successfully make a reservation for the Genius Bar, then you can go to an Apple Store, get your iPhone tested, be provided with the result of the test and be told that anyway they are going to change it but, unfortunately, they don't have the battery for your model right now and that you will need to come back another day.

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