Apple’s facing new legal action over data speeds on the iPhone 3G. A man from New Jersey says the company isn’t living up to its promise of superfast surfing — and now, he’s demanding action. His lawsuit makes for more than half a dozen network-related complaints filed against Apple in America’s courts.
iPhone 3G Speed Suit
The new suit, naming both Apple and AT&T, accuses the companies of a slew of scary-sounding charges: negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Whew…still with me?
Here’s what it all means: The guy says he can’t stay connected to the 3G network from his iPhone. The service is unreliable, he claims, and Apple misrepresented its “speed, strength, and performance.”
He doesn’t just want money, though: In addition to “compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages,” his lawsuit calls for both Apple and AT&T to modify their public statements about the iPhone’s capabilities within the 3G network.
Apple Under Fire
Apple should be used to this sort of stuff by now. Last summer, Great Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority forced Jobs and crew to pull an iPhone ad from the airwaves, stating that the spot “gave a misleading impression” of the phone’s actual ability. Since then, the U.S. courts have seen enough iPhone-related claims to make anyone feel a sense of déjà vu. Here’s a rap sheet of what’s happened over the past several months:
• February 2009: Two lawsuits say the “speed and infrastructure” of the 3G network aren’t great enough to support the devices. The suits, originating in Florida and Texas, use phrases like “negligent misrepresentation” and “breach of implied warranties.”
• November 2008: A lawsuit from San Jose says Apple misrepresented the speed of the iPhone 3G, going as far as to suggest the device was “rushed to market in a defective state.”
• November 2008: A separate case from New York accuses Apple of overloading the 3G network with more phones than it can handle. It also complains of “hairline cracks” in the iPhone’s casing.
• November 2008: Yet another case claims Apple engaged in false advertising by touting fast data speeds. This lawsuit, filed in San Diego, asks for changes to Apple and AT&T’s marketing tactics.
• August 2008: A suit in Alabama says dropped calls, connection trouble, and slow speeds make the iPhone far less useful than advertised. The case calls for class-action status, suggesting that “perhaps tens of thousands” of iPhone owners should be included.
Seem like a lot? Maybe, but I wouldn’t expect to see Apple panicking here. A company of its magnitude is always going to be a legal dartboard (we just saw another case filed against Apple and 10 Apple Store employees last week), and — regardless of any of the suits’ potential merit — odds are, each just amounts to one more line on the legal team’s to-do list.
Already, Apple has moved to dismiss some of the earlier suits, and that seems like a strategy it could easily employ with the others. In the end, given the company’s seemingly magical ability to generate brand-building buzz from almost anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if it somehow managed to morph all of this into positive publicity.
That’s my two cents, anyway. I’d give you some more specifics, but my 3G connection just went down and I can’t get anywhere.
Connect with JR Raphael on Twitter (@jr_raphael) or via his Web site, jrstart.com.