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Judge Throws Out Apple iMessage Class-Action Suit

A federal judge in California has denied a request to allow a former iPhone user to proceed with her complaint against Apple as a class-action lawsuit. The request by Adrienne Moore centered around her discovery that she was no longer able to receive iMessages from some other Apple device users after switching to an Android phone.

Moore filed her suit against Apple in May of last year, alleging that the iMessage system prevented her from obtaining the full benefit of her new cellphone contract for an Android device. We attempted to speak with Moore’s attorney, Roy Katriel, but did not receive a response.

In her ruling issued Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Lucy Koh found that Moore and her attorney satisified the legal requirement for showing standing to proceed with her complaint.

However, Koh also ruled that the description of other Apple users to be included in a class-action case was overbroad because it potentially included iPhone customers who might never have had access to text messaging services that supported iMessage.

Texts in ‘iMessage Purgatory’

While not dismissing Moore’s right to proceed with an individual complaint against Apple, Koh determined that “class certification would be inappropriate.” Individual issues for each potential plaintiff predominate over any common issues a class of complainants might have, she said.

Introduced in 2011, Apple’s iMessage uses the Internet rather than SMS networking to transmit text messages from one device to another. The difference between how text messages are sent for Apple iOS devices versus Android devices meant that when they switched to Android phones some former iPhone users found they could no longer receive messages originating on iOS devices.

The problem arose because iMessages continued to be routed via users’ iMessage accounts even after they had switched. As a result, some former iPhone users on Android discovered that iOS texts they should have received instead ended up in a “black hole” or “iMessage purgatory.”

New Fix Now Available from Apple

In her complaint, Moore stated that had she known that Apple’s messaging service would have prevented her from continuing to receive some text messages if she switched to a non-Apple device, she “would not have downloaded the iMessage and Messages service and application, or would not have purchased an iPhone or other Apple device in the first instance.”

In November, Apple launched an online tool designed to help former iPhone users resolve ongoing difficulties with iMessage. The deregistration tool allows users to either transfer their SIM cards to their old devices to deactivate iMessage or enter their phone numbers to deregister the iMessage service.

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