After facing scrutiny from French and South Korean lawmakers over the performance throttling and battery management software in iPhones, Apple is now undergoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Bloomberg.
The report, which cites anonymous sources "familiar with the matter," says the U.S. government’s probe is being conducted to determine whether stockholders were influenced by erroneous performance claims.
The software in question, introduced alongside iOS 10.2.1 and only affecting models including the iPhone 6 and newer, deliberately slows down processor performance once the device’s battery has fallen below a threshold of 80 percent capacity.
Apple acknowledged the software after customers began testing and noticing it for themselves. The company followed with an apology, with CEO Tim Cook admitting to ABC News that it “maybe should have been clearer” about its decision to automatically throttle users’ phones, which Apple stresses was not a scheme to initiate planned obsolescence, but instead to prevent random shutdowns due to deteriorated batteries.
While the U.S. government appears to be primarily concerned with the possibility Apple misled investors, prosecutors overseas are looking into the threat of planned obsolescence. In December, Apple slashed prices of battery replacements for customers with affected devices down from $79 to $29, but that didn’t save the Cupertino-based tech giant from being inundated with class action lawsuits and complaints from consumer watchdog groups in the following weeks.
At this time, the U.S. government has only requested information from Apple as the investigation ramps up. Bloomberg’s sources say it is too early to determine whether any penalties will be lodged against the iPhone maker.