On the iOS storage lawsuit

There’s been a lot of discussion about the lawsuit alleging that Apple is somehow defrauding its customers by selling a 16 Gig phone, which yields about 12 Gigs of usable space.

First off, take a look at the image in this post from last January.

Notice that of all the devices tested (the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were not born yet), Apple provides the most consumer-usable storage.

Apple’s more affordable (relatively) iPhone, the 5c, is the most generous of the 16GB phones we’re recently tested, giving you 12.6GB of memory (79%) to play with. Meanwhile Google’s new Nexus 5, which runs on the Android operating system like the S4,, is relatively bloatware free with 12.28GB (77%) of usable space. The iPhone 5s is in bronze position, providing 12.2GB (76%) of usable storage.

Macworld, along with a number of others, called the lawsuit frivolous, dumb.

iOS 8 has had its share of problems, and now we can throw one more on the pile: a lawsuit. Two plaintiffs have filed a suit claiming their 16GB iPhones and iPads don’t actually come with 16GB of storage, and iOS 8 takes up too much space—and Apple should make that clearer, in case we are all idiots who don’t get that operating systems do use storage.

Kirk McElhearn takes a counter position:

The lawsuit also highlights the fact that iOS 8 takes up substantially more space than iOS 7, saying, “Plaintiff upgraded to iOS 8 with the belief that the upgrade would not substantially inhibit his available storage capacity. Defendant did not disclose in conjunction with upgrades to iOS 8 the additional storage capacity that would be consumed by the upgrade.” And, later, “Apple fails to disclose that upgrading from iOS 7 to iOS 8 will cost a Device user between 600 MB and 1.3 GB of storage space – a result that no consumer could reasonably anticipate.”

I agree that Apple should warn users about how much space the new OS will take up, perhaps stating that it will use X GB more than the previous version, or explain that if the current amount of free space is X GB, after the upgrade it will only by Y GB.

The space problem is compounded as there are more and larger displays for iOS devices. Since apps you install contain all the graphics for all available devices, they are getting bigger and bigger. It would make sense for iTunes – or iOS devices – to only install the graphics that specific devices need. This said, I understand why Apple does not do this. If you download an app to an older iPhone, then transfer the purchase to iTunes to later use on a larger device, the transferred app won’t have all the elements the larger device needs. Nevertheless, Apple could fix this, with a system that downloads all the app’s assets after you transfer the purchase.

Should Apple offer some options to allow you to eliminate wasted space? That would certainly help.

Should they be legally required to? Of course not.

Should all phone vendors do a better job of letting potential buyers know about the hazards of buying a device with a smaller memory footprint? Again, that would certainly help.

Should they be legally required to? There’s the rub.