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09 January 2018, 07:11 | Justin Tyler
Enlarge Image Do we have a winner? Jason Cipriani CNET
Paris prosecutors have launched a probe of USA tech giant Apple over suspected "planned obsolescence" in some of its iPhone models, a judicial source told AFP on Monday.
The investigation into possible "planned obsolescence" or "fraud" was opened on Friday and is being led by anti-trust and consumer protection specialists in the French economy ministry, the source said.
Under French law, companies risk fines of up to 5 percent of their annual sales for deliberately shortening the life of their products to spur demand to replace them.
It comes after a complaint by the association Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP or Halte a l'Obsolescence Programmee) that followed Apple's admission last month that it intentionally slowed down older models of its iPhones over time. Since Apple doesn't break out its smartphone revenue by individual company, it's unclear just how much 5 percent of its revenue from French iPhone sales would be, but with the iPhone being the most popular smartphone in the world, it's safe to say it would be a significant sum.
Last month Apple confirmed what critics had suspected for years: that it intentionally slows performance of older iPhones as their batteries weaken with age.
"The slowing down of older devices seems to have the deliberate aim of pushing Apple customers towards purchasing the new model", the group said.
It has admitted slowing its flagship iPhones phones down, but says this was meant to extend their battery life. There's been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we're making.
Apple has declined to comment on the probe while the French prosecutor's office will now have to determine whether there are grounds to bring charges - a process that is expected to be lengthy and possibly fruitless. Seiko Epson Corp. also faces a probe in France into suspected planned obsolescence.
Apple already faces lawsuits in the United States over accusations of defrauding iPhone users by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.
Reuters reported the preliminary investigation could take a number of months and will either be dropped or passed on to a judge for further investigation, depending on the findings.
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