Does Apple build 'planned obsolescence' into its products? French investigation to find out begins

Apple store
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A new probe from regulators in France will challenge Apple over alleged planned obsolescence in its products.

The investigation, which started in December 2022, looks into Apple's approach to repairs, where the company ties the serial numbers of parts to the serial numbers of its products.

The initial complaint, filed by the Halt Planned Obsolescence (HOP) association, claimed Apple is "associating the serial numbers of spare parts to those of a smartphone, including via microchips, giving the manufacturer the possibility of restricting repairs by non-approved repairers or to remotely degrade a smartphone repaired with generic parts."

Apple introduced its Self-Service Repair program last year, allowing customers to order repair manuals, genuine parts, and genuine tools to complete repairs like display and battery replacements at home. 

While the program was a step in the right direction, HOP has a bigger issue with the practice of serialization.

The investigation from the French authorities could take months to conclude. Still, the country has previously shown that it doesn't back down to Apple's business choices — most recently as one of the vocal countries in the EU's ruling forcing Apple to use USB-C in upcoming iPhones, including the iPhone 15.

Apple's planned obsolescene?

Accusations of planned obsolescence are nothing new in the world of tech. It's a constant talking point from technophobes and something we've heard rumbles of for years.

Apple seemingly strives hard to distance itself from the concept of making products that easily break or become obsolete in a relatively quick fashion. Apple products are some of the best-made tech products on the market, and the company prides itself on software updates for older devices, continuously supporting iPhones for at least five years.

If the French authorities deem Apple guilty of planned obsolescence, we could see a significant shift in how consumer technology is marketed and produced. If so, this could majorly impact the best iPhones of years to come.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • gian posatiere
    If Apple is doing it every other company on the planet does it much worse because Apple's products last longer and are supported longer than any other consumer product company on the planet.
  • Ledsteplin
    Advancing technologies is not the same as planned obsolescence. iPhones last a long time. Might need a new battery, but they do last. And always new features in the OS, as more is developed. I don't see planned obsolescence.
  • Wotchered
    That is ridiculous ! My 4s still works for those old apps that haven’t been upgraded beyond its capabilities. My present XS is what, 2018 ? and will probably be ok for at least another 2 years.
    What do they expect of consumer electronics ?
    Of course if they manage to force design life to extend, it will only benefit people like me who are not impressed by the new and shiny,and the second hand market !