When Software Optimization Doesn’t Yield Benefits: The Lessons from iPhone’s Battery Gate Scandal

In this article, we share thoughts about the negative experiences of software optimization for iPhones with worn-out batteries, the repercussions of which Apple still feels, in the context of the digital transformation of any business.

Mykola (Nick) Hrytsaienko
October 12, 2023

In 2017, iPhone owners noticed that their mobile devices systematically slowed down with each update of the iOS operating system. They accused Apple of forcing enthusiasts of its technology to purchase new devices more frequently by doing so.

The claims against Apple were substantiated by the iPhone’s performance results in popular benchmarks. After transitioning to a new iOS, some models of the company’s smartphones did indeed show more modest operating speed results, leaving users perplexed.

Apple did not admit fault, attributing such occurrences to software optimization. It emphasized that due to inevitable chemical processes, iPhone batteries systematically degrade, losing useful capacity and the ability to deliver peak performance.

To avoid sudden iPhone shutdowns due to insufficient battery performance, developers decided to simply slow down the operation of the software. They optimized it in such a way that on older models, it would intentionally anticipate lower performance.

After the scandal, Apple added a menu in iOS with information about the battery status, indicating whether peak performance is supported and when a replacement is needed.

This approach by the company to its own devices outraged iPhone owners, leading to a class-action lawsuit against Apple. In 2023, the company was eventually ordered to pay about 500 million US dollars in compensation, distributed among the victims.

This situation has been a valuable lesson for many companies that have steered their business towards the tracks of digital transformation. It demonstrated to developers assisting in this journey that there is a need for utmost caution when optimizing and revamping software.

Moreover, it’s essential to understand that revising the functionality of commercial software and hardware products, even with good intentions, can lead to significant problems with customers. This is especially crucial when planning the next cycle of digital transformation.

This is why planning becomes a crucial stage of digital transformation. If you are just beginning to engage in this process for your business, it’s vital to develop a digital strategy plan. The Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) can assist with this, you can explore the details on this page.

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