Apple’s new iMessage deregistration tool can’t help it dodge lawsuit
Yesterday we caught wind of a long overdue fix arriving for some frustrating behavior of Apple’s iMessage service, where the phone numbers of people who had previously used iMessage got “trapped” in the system, preventing other iMessage users from sending text messages to these ex-users’ phones. Apple’s solution was to launch an online iMessage deregistration tool, where you could once and for all tell Apple to stop associating your phone number with a now-dormant iMessage account. And while that’s going to help out a lot going forward, it doesn’t do much to resolve the months and months of headaches users have already faced when trying to sort this mess out for themselves. Now a lawsuit is moving forward against Apple, alleging interference with contracts and anti-competitive behavior as a result of this iMessage behavior.
The suit alleges that Apple failed to adequately inform users what far-reaching effects associating their mobile number with iMessage would have, especially after leaving Apple’s ecosystem. By not properly releasing numbers from its system, the federal lawsuit claims, Apple interfered with the contracts between users and their cellular providers, getting in the way of them receiving the text message service they paid for.
A decision this week by US District Judge Lucy Koh (whom you may recall from all those Apple-Samsung lawsuits) allows the suit to continue, even without the plaintiff having to establish “an absolute right to receive every text message.” Apple claims the suit is without merit, arguing that just because a consumer believes that a technology should function a certain way, that doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the case – and here, that there was no reason for anyone to assume that removing a SIM from an iPhone would automatically cause it to lose its association with iMessage.