Apple accused of breaking FaceTime to force iOS 7 upgrades

facetimeSome users say that iOS 7
made their iPhones run slowly.
Photo: Apple

A class-action lawsuit claims that Apple intentionally broke
its FaceTime service on iOS 6 in order to get users to upgrade
to iOS 7 — thereby making older iPhones run slowly.

The reason was
allegedly driven by Apple’s desire not to have to continue
paying high data costs to the company Akamai, which ran
third-party servers used for handling FaceTime data.

FaceTime first launched back in 2010, it relied on both
Akamai’s “relay method” for moving data and Apple’s own
peer-to-peer technology, which transferred the necessary audio
and video information using a direct connection.

At first,
Akamai accounted for just 5-10 percent of FaceTime traffic,
although this number rapidly increased. In 2012, a jury ruled
that Apple’s peer-to-peer technology infringed on patents held
by another company, VirnetX. In addition to paying a hefty $368
million fine, Apple also had to stop using the peer-to-peer
tech, which meant relying more on Akamai.

around one year of this deal continuing, Apple used iOS 7 to
cut down on the fees by creating a new peer-to-peer FaceTime
method which didn’t infringe on VirnetX patents. However, from
April 16, 2014 onwards, Apple allowed a crucial digital
certificate to expire on iOS 6 — meaning that FaceTime would no
longer work for those users.

to the complaint, this was a purposeful attempt on Apple’s part
to cut down on paying increasing Akamai fees. In one email
reportedly from an Apple engineering manager to another Apple
engineer the following conversation took place:

Q) “Hey, guys. I’m looking at the Akamai contract for next
year. I understand we did something in April around iOS 6 to
reduce relay utilization.”
A) “It was a big user of relay bandwidth. We broke iOS 6, and
the only way to get FaceTime working again is to upgrade to
iOS 7.”

alleged reasoning was never made public. The class action
lawsuit was filed this week in a California court, with
the claimants seeking undisclosed damages.

Apple Insider