The Italian Authority for Market and Competition said in a statement that "Apple and Samsung implemented dishonest commercial practices" that "caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them".
Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) said on Wednesday that the tech companies had violated Articles 20, 21, 22 and 24 of the Consumer Code because they issued updates to older devices which were incapable of running newer software correctly. The update was meant for the Galaxy Note 7 but Samsung failed to warn users that when installed on the older Note 4, the update caused the phone to malfunction.
But that was "without informing them of the serious malfunctions that the new firmware could cause due to greater stress of device's hardware and asking a high fix cost for out-of-warranty repairs connected to such malfunctions".
Apple was found to have done the same to iPhone 6 users, prompting them to install software that was intended for the iPhone 7. This was followed by offers of reduced prices for out-of-warranty batteries, as well as the option to turn off the throttling altogether.
In December 2017, Apple admitted it slows down phones to extend their life and stop them from shutting down as batteries age and become less effective.
Following the media and consumer backlash, Apple released an update that allowed users to opt-out of the throttling feature.
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This latter explanation is known as planned, or built-in, obsolescence. The general idea was that the manufacturer was "forcing" them to update to the latest and greatest. The company has denied this is done in order to get customers to buy new models.
This also stimulates demand for products because people return again and again.
Last year, Apple acknowledged issues with previous iPhone models and their battery performance after updating to the latest version.
Software updates were said to have slowed the performance of older phones. Apple also faces a class-action suit in the US.
"We are disappointed with the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) decision", said Samsung in an email statement. It pledged to cooperate with the Italian authorities.