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Apple hit with class action lawsuit over iCloud's 5GB limit


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A newly-proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Apple has “marked up its iCloud prices to the point where the service is generating almost pure profit.” As reported first by Bloomberg Law, the plaintiffs accuse Apple of “rigging the competitive playing field” by only allowing iCloud to manage device backups and other storage needs. “Apple device holders are given 5GB of free iCloud storage space, but as Apple’s iCloud revenues attest, most users find this insufficient for their storage needs and purchase a supplemental iCloud storage plan,” the lawsuit says. Infamously, the free tier of iCloud has remained limited to 5GB of storage since it was introduced by Steve Jobs at WWDC 2011. Much of the lawsuit’s emphasis is on the fact that iPhone users only have one option when it comes to full device backups, and that option is Apple’s own iCloud service. And iCloud, as we all know, only gives you 5GB for free. Apple nevertheless arbitrarily requires that its mobile device holders use iCloud to back up certain file types—mainly, device settings as well as apps and apps data (“Restricted Files”). With respect to other file types—e.g., photos and videos (“Accessible Files”)—Apple mobile device holders can select from other cloud-based storage providers servicing the market, including Google Drive,, pCloud, and others. In doing this, the plaintiffs say that Apple “prevents rival cloud platforms from offering a full-service cloud solution that can compete effectively against iCloud.” As such, Apple can choose to limit free iCloud storage to 5GB and know that most people will need to subscribe and pay for more storage just to back up their devices. Apple’s restrictions eliminate that choice and, in doing so, effectively compel Apple device holders to use iCloud for cloud storage. Technically speaking, Apple imposes what economists refer to as a “requirements” tie. That is, if iPhone or iPad holders wish to use cloud storage for Restricted Files—and most do— iCloud is their only option for fulfilling that requirement. And for anyone requiring more than 5GB of storage, which is to say most Apple customers, they must pay for it “There is no technological or security justification for Apple mandating the use of iCloud for Restricted Files,” the lawsuit reads. “Apple draws this distinction only to curtail competition and advantage its iCloud product over rival cloud platforms.” The full lawsuit can be found over at Bloomberg Law. The lead plaintiff is being represented by the Hagens Berman law firm, which is the same law firm behind a number of different class action lawsuits against Apple. Most notably, the firm handled the $560 million class action Apple Books price fixing lawsuit against Apple. People who have purchased iCloud storage and are interested in potentially joining the lawsuit can do so via a form on the Hagens Berman website.

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