Accusations that Apple slows down the processing power of older iPhones in order to force customers to buy new versions has accompanied almost every new product launch. The rumors never attracted much news cycle traction until this holiday season, and now Apple is paying for it.
After customer backlash, negative media coverage and even lawsuits, on Dec. 28 Apple released an apology letter and an offer to replace old phone batteries at a discount.
"We've been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process," Apple's apology begins. "We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize."
Apple's message goes on to explain that in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns and interruptions, the "iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown" with the iOS 10.2.1 update about a year ago.
Delaying its apology and technical explanation helped feed the rumor mill and sowed more mistrust of the brand. Apple could have communicated this change along with the iOS update a year ago to get ahead of the messaging. Instead, a developer named John Poole found out about the throttling after tracking the performance of the phone over time.
Given the lack of timely and clear communications from Apple, customers will likely expect the company to be more transparent in 2018 and beyond.
"At Apple, our customers' trust means everything to us," the brand's letter concludes. "We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support—and we will never forget that or take it for granted."
This final sentence of Apple's statement contains the seeds of a useful New Year's resolution for all brands: Don't take customers' faith and support in your brand for granted.
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