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Class Claims Apple Knew Its ‘Upgrade’|Would Turn 3G iPhone Into an ‘iBrick’

SAN DIEGO (CN) - To goose sales of its new iPhone 4, Apple told owners of its third-generation iPhone to download an operating system that the company knew would turn the 3G phones into a "device with little more use than that of a paper weight," irate customers say in a Superior Court class action. The lead plaintiff claims Apple's "upgrade" turned her phone into an "iBrick."

Lead plaintiff Bianca Wofford says Apple told owners of its 3G and 3GS iPhones that the new iOS4 operating system was an upgrade. But she says the "upgrade" made her phone slow and susceptible to crashes, turning an iPhone into an "iBrick."

"In essence, Apple knowingly and intentionally released what it called a system software 'upgrade' that, in fact, made hundreds of thousands of third generation iPhones that were exclusively tethered to AT&T data plans 'useless' for their intended purpose," according to the complaint.

"Since the release of iOS4 in conjunction with the sale and release of the fourth generation iPhone, or the iPhone 4 in June 2010, Apple has falsely, intentionally and repeatedly represented to owners and consumers of the iPhone 3G that its new operating system for the device, iOS4, was of a nature, quality, and a significant upgrade for the functionality of all iPhone devices, when in fact, the installation and use of iOS4 on the iPhone 3G resulted in the opposite - a device with little more use than that of a paper weight."

Wofford says there is no way to restore the third-generation phones' operating system without using "hacker tactics." She claims that Apple intentionally created a "consumer Catch 22" to get 3G users to switch to the new iPhone 4.

"Even though Apple has actual knowledge of thousands of complaints from iPhone 3G/3GS consumers, Apple does not allow for those same users/consumers of third generation devices to download and re-install earlier and optimized iOS3.x operating system without resorting to 'hacker' tactics that will void Apple warranties and violate iPhone user agreements," according to the complaint.

"This whole situation was created to be a consumer Catch 22 by Apple in order for the company to promote sales of its just released iPhone 4 and cause consumers to simply abandon the earlier 3G and 3GS platforms."

The complaint adds: "Apple knew that the iPhone 3G and 3GS were not fully compatible with the iOS4 and that iOS4, once installed, would substantially compromise the earlier device functionality, speed and application use. ...

"The true fact of the matter, as verifiable by information technology experts, is that the iOS4 is a substantial 'downgrade' from earlier iPhone devices and renders many of them virtually useless 'iBricks.'"

Wofford seeks restitution, disgorgement of Apple's ill-gotten gains, and damages for false and deceptive advertising, unfair competition, and violations of state consumer protection laws.

She is represented by J. Jason Hill with Cohelan and Khoury.

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