No, we are not in 2013; but you also didn’t read the wrong title. Apple is, in fact, facing another lawsuit, this time pending before the Florida District Court, where a class action claim that Apple “broke” the FaceTime to force users of iPhones 4 and 4s (launched in 2010 and 2011, respectively) to update their devices to iOS 7.
Didn’t understand patavinas? I explain: Apple launched FaceTime in 2010 as a video conferencing service that then connected two iGadgets using two different methods. The first, “point-to-point”, transferred audio and video data over a direct connection between the devices; the second was known as the “relay method”, which used third-party servers to establish this connection.
Relayed calls were more expensive (for using data and connections from other servers) for Apple than the option that connected two devices directly. At that time, Apple paid Akamai Technologies for the use of FaceTime servers – but this type of connection was a minority, about 5% to 10% of all FaceTime traffic before 7 November 2012. Until VirnetX get in the way.
As many of you may know, the imbroglio between VirnetX and Apple may be one of the oldest legal cases involving the Cupertino giant. It all started in 2010, when the company sued Apple for using VPN technologies on iPhones; later, several other processes between the two surfaced, which included the technology used in FaceTime to connect two devices directly.
It would be counterproductive to go into the details of these VirnetX actions, but it is important to understand that this has led Apple to adopt the relay method for all FaceTime calls in order to avoid paying royalties to VirtnetX. Consequently, this situation was decisive for the Cupertino giant to start paying even higher amounts to the relay servers. A possible solution for this came with iOS 7, released in September 2013.
It is natural that when a new operating system is released, many users prefer to wait to update their devices (or even not update them at all). This also happened in 2013, but Apple allegedly requested, on April 16, 2014, the expiration of a FaceTime certificate that basically “broke” the main function of the service – which is why the company is being sued this time, as disclosed by Law360.
According to the process, users were “forced” to upgrade to iOS 7 so they could use FaceTime, which resulted in several performance problems on iPhones 4 and 4s (slowness, among others). In short, the plaintiffs accuse Apple of “pushing” users to buy newer devices (at the time, iPhones 5, 5c and 5s).
In addition, the lawsuit claims that, although Apple attributed the FaceTime failure to an error that would be corrected with the new operating system, the company intentionally caused the application to fail to force users to update their devices and thus reduce retransmission costs that still ran based on calls made from gadgets running iOS 6 and earlier.
Finally, the lawsuit requires Apple to be investigated to see if the company “violated Florida state laws on fraudulent and unfair business practices”, as well as the possibility that the company “invaded” private properties (iPhones) of users. For all these reasons, the plaintiffs seek restitution, damages and the payment of legal fees.
Whether it is stillborn or not, the fact is that they took a situation out of the bottom of the chest to try to frame Apple. We’ll see what that will do …