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Apple deleted competitors’ music off iPods

Ever remember seeing a message about your iPod "restoring factory settings"? Yeah. That's where all your music went.


Alex La Ferla


Posted on Dec 4, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 1:45 am CDT

In news that recalls the late Steve Jobs’ complete disdain for his competition, it was revealed yesterday during ongoing court proceedings that Apple intentionally deleted music not bought on iTunes from users’ iPods between 2007 and 2009.

Attorneys in the potentially billion dollar antitrust case claim that Apple actively stifled competition, allowing the company to jack up prices on its music devices to unfair rates.  

“You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up [a user’s music library],” attorney Patrick Coughlin said during the proceedings on Wednesday.

Coughlin states that when iPods loaded with music downloaded from a competitor tried to sync with an iTunes library, an error message appeared instructing users to restore their device to factory settings, which would result in the deletion of all the music found on the device. According to Apple’s Security Director, Augustin Farrugia, these instructions were a legitimate security measure designed to prevent hackers from infiltrating users’ iPods. Farrugia added that the messages consumers received were left purposely vague so as not to “confuse users.”

Earlier in the case, jurors were shown a cryptic 2005 email from Jobs after he learned that a competitor was about to introduce a product that would let users play music on their iPods downloaded from any source. “We may need to change things here,” reads the email. Jurors will also soon see testimony from Steve Jobs filmed in 2011, six months before his death. Later, they will hear from other high profile figures at Apple, including software VP, Eddy Cue, and Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing.

Economic experts for the estimated 8 million consumers represented in the case say the damages amount to almost $350 million, a number which could be tripled under antitrust law.

H/T The Wall Street Journal Photo via Andrew*/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2014, 1:42 pm CST