As the iPhone 8 looks set to be unveiled on September 12th, a U.S. study has found that Apple deliberately slows down its older models just ahead of a new release.
Apple is expected to announce three new iPhones at an invite-only event in two weeks. However, a U.S. study analysed worldwide searches for ‘iPhone slow’ and found that the search term spiked around the time of a new iPhone launch.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: The study, compiled by Harvard University PhD student Laura Trucco, follows claims that the Cupertino-based company is deliberately sabotaging its old products.
Writing for the New York Times, Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard, described the results as ‘striking’.
‘Wouldn’t many business owners love to make their old product less useful whenever they released a newer one?’ Mr Mullainathan wrote.
‘When you sell the device and control the operating system, that’s an option’.
While some MailOnline readers haven’t noticed a slow down, others claim that Apple is sabotaging older phones through software updates.
‘This is common knowledge,’ one reader wrote. ‘If you want to keep your iPhone running at the same pace do not do the software upgrade that comes out within six months of a new iPhone release,’
Last year, Catherine Rampell, also writing in the New York Times, raised concerns that Apple could be engineering the new operating system so it only works properly with the newest version of the product.
She said her iPhone 4 became a lot slower when she downloaded iOS 7 – and that the only solution seemed to be to buy the
Ms Rampell accused Apple of having run out of ideas so was trying to ‘brainwash’ its customers into buying the new iPhone 5S and 5C because they look nice.
Her claims fuelled conspiracy theorists who have long held that Apple engages in ‘planned obsolescence’, a term which has been around since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The theory states that manufacturers of everything from cars to microwaves build in a certain lifetime to a product and then it will simply stop working, forcing consumers to buy a new one.
And Apple has faced allegations that it is guilty of planned obsolescence before.
When it started using more tamper-resistant screws experts said it was to stop users getting into the phone and fixing it themselves if there was a problem.
Meanwhile, in 2012 Apple was sued in Brazil by the Brazilian Institute of Politics and Law Software over the launch of the iPad Air.
The organisation claimed that because it had the new retina screen it made the iPad 3 redundant and that Apple was changing its devices too quickly.
Ms Rampell said: ‘When major innovations remain out of reach, and degrading durability threatens to tick off loyal customers, companies like Apple can still take a cue from the fashion industry.
‘If you can brainwash consumers into developing new tastes that make the old stuff look uncool for aesthetic rather than functional reasons, you still have a shot at harvesting more sales from your existing customer base.
Dom Ferkin, managing direction of UK-based iOS experts, Creation Application, told MailOnline that he doesn’t believe Apple are doing this intentionally.
‘On every hardware release they tend to upgrade the chips and they are faster every time they are released,’ he said.
‘Each year they release a new iOS. If you’re running an iOS 7 on a 5 chip, for example, it’s comparable to running Windows XP on a Windows 95 machine.
‘It’s just enough to annoy the users, but it’s needed if you want the slew of new features that Apple releases each year.’
Mr Mullainathan added that the research does not prove that Apple has done anything wrong.
No matter how suggestive, he says, the data alone doesn’t allow anyone to determine conclusively whether their phone is any slower.
There are other explanations for why an older model iPhone may slow down, he claims.
For instance, the latest version of the Apple operating system, iOS, is always tailored to the newest device and may therefore not work as efficiently on older models.
‘Hearing about a new release makes you contemplate getting a new and faster phone,’ he added. ‘And you suddenly notice how slow your old phone is.’
Apple is yet to respond.