In 2014, Apple broke FaceTime for iOS 6. Now Apple faces a lawsuit.
Way back in 2014 we told you how Apple had broke FaceTime for users. More specifically, a certificate had expired and Apple had no intention of renewing it. What this did was force users to either upgrade their device to iOS 7, or no longer use FaceTime.
Of course most of us would just say upgrade the phone. There was an issue with iOS 7 though for older phones. Namely, it took people’s older iPhones that was working well enough, and made them work poorly, or more truthfully, as I said back then, nearly unusable. The question was why did this happen? At that point in time, it was all guesses, and the guess was that Apple wanted users to buy new phones. It turns out there was more to it than that.
In another lawsuit against Apple, this one in regards to a VirnetX patent infringement, internal documents appeared which shed some light on the FaceTime issue. You see, when FaceTime calls began, Apple had two methods of connecting those calls. One method was through a peer-to-peer technology. The other was utilized a relay method traveling through third party servers owned by Akamai. This relay method carried a charge for Apple, but luckily for Apple, this was only a small amount of calls, only 5 to 10 percent of the calls.
This percentage increased after it was found that Apple peer-to-peer connection actually infringed on patents held by VirnetX. Apple paid a$368 million fine in this case, and had to stop using that connection. This meant that all calls now went through Akamai, and costs to Apple skyrocketed. It is suggested that fees to Akamai were around $50 million just between April and September of 2013.
Apple went to work, and developed a new peer-to-peer technology that did not infringe on VirnetX’s patents and included this technology within iOS 7. This would save Apple a monthly multi-million dollar bill. But they needed people to move on to iOS 7. Even if it caused problems on older phones.
Now, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple, stating that Apple purposely broke FaceTime in iOS 6 by making the offending certificate expire early. Unfortunately for Apple, it appears all the needed proof of this was found within the internal documents which were uncovered during the prior patent case.
The complaint against Apple cites an email change between Apple engineers that includes;
“Hey, guys. I’m looking at the Akamai contract for next year. I understand we did something in April around iOS 6 to reduce relay utilization,” said an Apple engineering manager. In response, another engineer said, “It was a big user of relay bandwidth. We broke iOS 6, and the only way to get FaceTime working again is to upgrade to iOS 7.”
Seems pretty cut and dry to me. I have no doubt that it will be proven that Apple broke FaceTime on purpose. The question I have, is if this is illegal? Is this something which users can claim damages on? After all, it is a service which Apple is offering, and can presumably stop offering at any time. Had Apple been honest with their customers, would there have been a case? I don’t think so.
Well Apple should learn, honesty really is the best policy. They should try it some time.