Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple iMac: 'New and inferior,' lawsuit says

March 31, 2008: 4:21 PM ET

imac-suit.pngTwo complaints about Apple's popular aluminum iMac line -- the "washed out" look of the 20-inch iMac that surfaced on Apple's discussion boards last summer (see here) and the "millions of colors" issue that was recently settled by the company -- were rolled into one class-action lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Jose.

The plaintiff -- a Texan named Chandra Sanders -- claims to represent tens of thousands of customers who purchased the smaller of the two iMacs introduced last August. She is demanding a jury trial.

At the center of her complaint is the allegation that while 24-inch iMacs are capable of displaying 16,777,216 colors on 8-bit, in-plane switching (IPS) screens, the 20-inch iMac have 6-bit twisted nematic film (TN) LCD screens that can display only 262,144 colors.

Much of the 15-page complaint is taken up repeating statements made by Steve Jobs at the product introduction and by marketing messages issued later by Apple (AAPL) that describe the two displays as if they were interchangeable.

Apple's website, for example, says that "No matter what you like to do on your computer — watch movies, edit photos, play games, even just view a screen saver — it's going to look stunning on an iMac."

In fact, say the plaintiff's representatives, "the inferior technology of the 20-inch iMac is particularly ill-suited to editing photographs because of the display's limited color potential and the distorting effect of the color simulation processes... Apple deceptively marketed its new 20-inch iMac in a way that grossly inflated the capabilities of its monitor, which is vastly inferior to the previous generation it replaced."

"Apple is duping its customers into thinking they're buying 'new and improved' when, in fact, they're getting stuck with 'new and inferior,'" said Brian Kabateck of Kabateck Brown Kellner, the Los Angeles firm that is handling case. "Beneath Apple's 'good guy' image is a corporation that takes advantage of its customers. Our goal is to help those customers who were deceived and make sure Apple tells the truth in the future."

Ms. Sanders claims to have lost "money or property" as a result of Apple's "unfair, unlawful and fraudulent" actions, although no dollar figure is provide.

It its press release, Kabateck Brown Kellner LLD describes itself as "one of the nation's foremost consumer law firms." The firm claims that its clients have won more than $750 million against Google (GOOG), Farmer's Insurance, Eli Lilly (LLY) and other major corporations.

Posted in: , ,
Join the Conversation
About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for

Email | @philiped | RSS
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.