Lawsuit claims Apple forced users to iOS 7 by breaking FaceTime

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2017
A class-action lawsuit filed in California on Thursday alleges Apple schemed to force iPhone users to upgrade to iOS 7 in a bid to save money on a data services deal with Akamai, a move that rendered older hardware like iPhone 4 and 4S unusable.




Seemingly spawned from internal Apple documents disclosed during the VirnetX patent infringement lawsuit, which found Apple on the hook for $302.4 million in damages, the California action claims Apple intentionally broke FaceTime for devices running iOS 6 and earlier to avoid high monthly data relay charges from Akamai.

When FaceTime launched in 2010, Apple included two methods of connecting one iPhone to another. The first, a peer-to-peer technology, transferred audio and video data over a direct connection, while a second "relay method" used third-party servers run by Akamai to shuttle data back and forth.

Initially, calls routed through Akamai's relay servers only accounted for only 5 to 10 percent of FaceTime traffic, but usage quickly spiked. On Nov. 7, 2012, a jury found Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime call technology in infringement of patents owned by VirnetX. Along with a $368 million fine, the ruling meant Apple would have to shift away from peer-to-peer to avoid further infringement.

Apple began to incur multi-million dollar monthly charges from Akamai as a result of the change. Testimony from the 2016 VirnetX retrial pegged relay fees at about $50 million between April 2013 and September 2013, rates that according to today's lawsuit were of concern to Apple executives. For example, an internal email with the subject "Ways to Reduce Relay Usage" circulated among employees as the company explored its options.

After eating rising relay service charges for nearly a year, Apple saw a chance to slow down or completely negate the fees in iOS 7. Among other system improvements, the next-generation OS included a method of creating peer-to-peer FaceTime connections without infringing on VirnetX patents. The only problem, according to the lawsuit, was that users continued to operate devices running iOS 6.

Citing internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX trial, the lawsuit alleges Apple devised a plan to "break" FaceTime on iOS 6 or earlier by causing a vital digital certificate to prematurely expire. Apple supposedly implemented the "FaceTime Break" on April 16, 2014, then blamed the sudden incompatibility on a bug, the lawsuit claims.

Apple recognized the FaceTime issues in support document at the time.
If you started to have issues making or receiving FaceTime calls after April 16, 2014, your device or your friend's device may have encountered a bug resulting from a device certificate that expired on that date. Updating both devices to the latest software will resolve this issue.
The support page has been revised multiple times since the above text was posted in 2014 and no longer includes mention of the April 16, 2014, bug.

The complaint goes on to cite an email chain from Apple engineers as evidence that rising Akamai fees spurred the company's actions.

"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."

None of Apple's alleged plan to force an upgrade was made public.

The allegations are somewhat questionable, as Apple's own statistics show only 11 percent of compatible devices were still running iOS 6 as of April 2014.

In any case, with the key backend component rendered non-functional, users looking to make FaceTime calls were left with little choice but to upgrade to iOS 7, or more specifically iOS 7.0.4. Citing circumstantial evidence and media reports, the suit alleges the forced upgrade was too much of a burden for older hardware like iPhone 4 and 4S, causing those devices to crash or run software at slower than optimal speeds. As such, users who owned said iPhone models were harmed as a result of Apple's actions.

The class-action suit seeks to find Apple violated California's unfair competition law and is liable for trespass to chattels, a tort in which one party intentionally interferes with another person's possessions. Undisclosed damages are also being sought.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    Wow, potentially making users upgrade to a newer, free OS. Tyranny is alive and well. 
    jfc1138andrewj5790Solianton zuykovmagman1979radster360watto_cobraidreywilliamlondonSpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 30
    Next the big, people will start suing google every time they shut an app down. Wouldn't be surprisedif this suit is brought by Akamai execs. Missing that easy money. Lol
    watto_cobralukevaxhacker
  • Reply 3 of 30
    Next the big, people will start suing google every time they shut an app down. Wouldn't be surprisedif this suit is brought by Akamai execs. Missing that easy money. Lol
    Akamai didn't do anything wrong.  The "easy money" you allege is just Akamai's normal content caching service that is their bread and butter.
  • Reply 4 of 30
    iOS 7 versions prior to 7.0.4  also had this bug. And Apple released iOS 6.1.6 for the devices that couldn't upgrade to iOS 7 to fix this issue for them. Not a big deal.
    jfc1138andrewj5790Solirandominternetpersonjbishop1039magman1979watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 30
    Next the big, people will start suing google every time they shut an app down. Wouldn't be surprisedif this suit is brought by Akamai execs. Missing that easy money. Lol
    I am pretty sure Akamai has nothing to do with this lawsuit. After all they had Apple as a customer before Facetime and Apple still uses Akamai to this day. I am certain that this baseless lawsuit is been brought by the same people behind the VirnetX trolls. I am sure they had gone over and over every single document they got on discovery on that lawsuit too see were they can find the tiny thing to file another lawsuit.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 30
    I remember MacRumors posters went nuts over this. Mostly people who hated the look of iOS 7 and refused to upgrade. Some of those people are probably still using devices that run iOS 6.  :D
  • Reply 8 of 30

    "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." 

    Just because they acknowledge they broke it, doesn't mean they did it on purpose. Also, if they did fix it in the iOS 6 train, where is the continuing harm? Hopefully this gets tossed to the curb where it belongs.
    watto_cobraidreyStrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 30
    I need to go to Costco to buy a case of booze to survive the pain from my stomach from so much laughter.

    AppleInsider, you're killing me.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 30
    In a world more ideal than this I would have a first thought like "ok, I'm curious whether this has any grounds and justice should be done".  In reality, I feel immediately biased against the class action suit. You know, ambulance chasers and analysts - same breed. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 30
    Next the big, people will start suing google every time they shut an app down. Wouldn't be surprisedif this suit is brought by Akamai execs. Missing that easy money. Lol
    Akamai didn't do anything wrong.  The "easy money" you allege is just Akamai's normal content caching service that is their bread and butter.
    Whoa. Slow down turbo!

    wasn't a real accusation. Just pointing out how stupid a suit like this is. Especially as there is literally nothing to gain, hence the Akamai jest. 

    Apple had no choice, #1. And the solution wasn't going to b backwards baked into an iOS 6 update. Too much work. May as well have been iOS 6.5 with the only "benefit" being the outdated interface, #2 (remember the videos of children crying upon witnessing the new look? Lol). Features get broken all the time when gears shift to a new OS. the other issue is one of presumption: is FaceTime actually proven to "drive" people to iOS? No doubt it's awesome. But there is no way they can be so dogmatic about something so unproven. 

    its a frivolous suit. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 30
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    This feels like a baseless lawsuit.

    Apple can update the phone OS at any time, and up until iOS9, the end user had to specifically update the OS if they wanted it. (iOS 10 allows auto-updating.) If the phone is out of date, then you've been hanging onto that phone way too long and should have had no expectation that the software on it that relies on cloud services will last forever.

    The same goes for plenty of other things on smart phones. Hell even my old Nokia N95 had google apps, but once the phone was about 5 years old, if I update the firmware I can't download or install the previously working google apps.

    So this is the thing, in 3 years, all the pre-LTE phones will likely be forced to be upgraded due to all 3G/HSPDA and CDMA 1X networks being shutdown. So that is everything before the iPhone 5 and Retina iPad.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 30
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,460member
    Remember Denise Cote, the judge we love to hate?

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3153924/technology-law-regulation/a-potentially-fatal-blow-against-patent-trolls.html

    After being told that a case had no merit, a patent troll went ahead with the case anyway, hoping that their victim would pay up instead of facing a costly court battle. 

    The troll lost and Cote told them that they must pay costs to the defendant. 

    When the troll's lawyer claimed their client hadn't got the money, Cote made the law firm liable for the costs instead. 
    watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 30
    glynhglynh Posts: 127member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Remember Denise Cote, the judge we love to hate?

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3153924/technology-law-regulation/a-potentially-fatal-blow-against-patent-trolls.html

    After being told that a case had no merit, a patent troll went ahead with the case anyway, hoping that their victim would pay up instead of facing a costly court battle. 

    The troll lost and Cote told them that they must pay costs to the defendant. 

    When the troll's lawyer claimed their client hadn't got the money, Cote made the law firm liable for the costs instead. 
    ^^Fantastic...more of this please!

    However this was back in 2014. Has there been any other examples since then to act as a deterrent I wonder?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 30
    glynhglynh Posts: 127member
    I remember MacRumors posters went nuts over this. Mostly people who hated the look of iOS 7 and refused to upgrade. Some of those people are probably still using devices that run iOS 6.  :D
    Well I for one wish I had left my iPad 2 on iOS 6 not just because I didn't like the spindly text for one but because 'upgrading' rendered it unusable due to slowdown. Up to that point it was a fantastic device.
    propodicoco3
  • Reply 16 of 30
    Shows you just how inefficient the court system is that we’re on iOS 10 now and this is just being shat out.
    watto_cobraicoco3justadcomicsmacseeker
  • Reply 17 of 30
    smalmsmalm Posts: 654member
    Shows you just how inefficient the court system is
    That's what you get with half of the world's lawyers located in the US  :p
    watto_cobratallest skil
  • Reply 18 of 30
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,460member
    Shows you just how inefficient the court system is that we’re on iOS 10 now and this is just being shat out.
    There's a whole load of other frivolous lawsuits to get through first.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 30
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,460member

    glynh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    Remember Denise Cote, the judge we love to hate?

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3153924/technology-law-regulation/a-potentially-fatal-blow-against-patent-trolls.html

    After being told that a case had no merit, a patent troll went ahead with the case anyway, hoping that their victim would pay up instead of facing a costly court battle. 

    The troll lost and Cote told them that they must pay costs to the defendant. 

    When the troll's lawyer claimed their client hadn't got the money, Cote made the law firm liable for the costs instead. 
    ^^Fantastic...more of this please!

    However this was back in 2014. Has there been any other examples since then to act as a deterrent I wonder?

    Probably not.

    We don't have the same problem in the UK. If you lose the case then you pay the other party's costs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 30
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,059member
    the suit alleges the forced upgrade was too much of a burden for older hardware like iPhone 4 and 4S

    Well if that's the allegation at the heart of their 'case', then that is simply not true and the entire pretext is a nonsense.
    watto_cobraSpamSandwich
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