Regulators in Italy have hit Apple with a $12 million fine for making unsustainable claims about the water resistance of its devices. The fine was announced on Monday with the Italian agency saying that Apple misled the public on two counts. According to the report, Apple claimed in several promotional materials that its phone models, ranging from the iPhone 8 to the iPhone 11, were waterproof to a depth of between 1 and 4 meters.
The promotional materials also went on to claim that these phones could stay in such depths for up to 30 minutes and would still not get damaged. However, the Italian regulator said that this was only true under very strict laboratory conditions. In essence, this could only work if the water was still, and if indeed it was 100% pure.
However, in the real world, things are a bit different. The agency noted that Apple had misled its customers when it comes to warranties as well. According to Apple's terms and conditions, the warranty becomes void if the phone is damaged by liquids. The company, in some cases, even denied repairs to people whose phones had been damaged by water.
The Italian regulator accused Apple of not being clear enough about the claims of water resistance. It also felt that Apple was contradictory in its messaging. While on one hand, it was telling customers that its phones are waterproof, it was also making it clear that water damage isn’t covered by the warranty. It's not the first time Apple has been fined by the Italian agency.
Just two years ago, the US smartphone giant was fined millions of dollars for slowing down older models of its iPhones through software updates. This was seen at the time as a deliberate move by the company to force customers into buying newer phones. Apple claimed that it was slowing the phone to improve battery life.
However, Apple wasn’t the only company fined for this scandal. Even Samsung, one of its main competitors in Europe, was engulfed in a similar scandal. Apple has since paid millions of dollars in settlements in the US as a result of this. European regulators have also been flexing their regulatory power in an effort to counter the growing influence associated with Silicon Valley-based companies.
We have seen large tech giants like Google and Facebook hit by fines from European regulators in recent months. We don’t expect this to change. Although $12 million may seem like little money for a huge company like Apple, it’s a sign that regulators in Europe are keen on what these companies are doing.
It also shows that they aren’t afraid to step in and crack the whip should they feel something isn’t right. We can also comfortably say that this won’t be the last time Apple will be in a scandal. While the company does its best to steer clear of trouble, sometimes trouble just follows it as we have seen over the years.