Apple has agreed to pay $ 18 million to resolve a FaceTime-related class action. According to the trial results, the Cupertino company was accused of having voluntarily blocked FaceTime on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S to save on the third-party licenses necessary to make the service work.
The story is this: when FaceTime was launched in 2010, Apple used two methods different to make it work. One was a direct peer-to-peer connection between the two devices involved in the call, while the other involved routing calls through third-party services and was therefore more expensive than the first.
However, in 2012 a court found that – albeit for a small part – the peer-to-peer system violated the patents of a company called VirnetX, and so on Apple had been forced to use only the second method, based on third party services, spending much more than budgeted.
With the subsequent launch of iOS7, Apple was also able to launch a new proprietary peer-to-peer system, in order to cut service costs. However, many owners of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S refused to switch to the new operating system to avoid problems with the update.
At that point, Apple blocked FaceTime on these models, in order to force users to update to the new operating system. The fact seems confirmed by some exchanges of emails between the company's engineers. Apple's attempt to close the lawsuit in 2017, which had attempted to get rid of it, stressing that users had not suffered any economic loss since FaceTime is a free service, rejected the pecuniary agreement mentioned at the beginning.
As anticipated, the lawsuit ended in favor of the plaintiffs, to which Apple has granted $ 18 million. It is actually about mostly "moral" victory: in fact, if everyone decides to claim their share, everyone will receive about $ 3. If, however, someone were to renounce the check, there will be a second redistribution. The two main plaintiffs, Christina Grace and Ken Potter, will receive $ 7,500 each, while the rest of the money will cover court costs.