Any experts in European Union competition law out there? Because I have a feeling that apple might just have opened itself to a whole world of pain:
Thousands of iPhone 6 users claim they have been left holding almost worthless phones because Apple’s latest operating system permanently disables the handset if it detects that a repair has been carried out by a non-Apple technician.
Relatively few people outside the tech world are aware of the so-called “error 53” problem, but if it happens to you you’ll know about it. And according to one specialist journalist, it “will kill your iPhone”.
Now, there’s special rules for the auto industry but as far as I can see insisting that a product only be repaired by the company itself, insisting that third parties do not do so, is verboeten. You can invalidate warranties, fine, but you cannot just brick a product because it has been repaired by someone else.
But that’s what Apple is doing:
A spokeswoman for Apple told Money (get ready for a jargon overload): “We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.”
She adds: “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.”
I can imagine that running right into the brick wall of EU competition policy. 10% of global turnover style fines. But is there anyone who actually knows this area of law?