Apple must answer for missing text messages, judge rules

A California woman, Adrienne Moore, who says she lost “countless” text messages after she switched from Apple’s iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S5, can proceed with a class action lawsuit, a judge ruled on Monday.

The case turns on the iMessage feature, which allows [company]Apple[/company] users to send text messages to each other and, in many cases, avoid phone carriers texting fees. The feature is popular with iPhone users, but has proved a major headache for people who switch to a non-Apple phone.

The reason, as Moore and many others discovered, is that Apple continues to treat text messages sent to phone numbers associated with former iPhone owners as “iMessages,” causing them to go into a messaging black hole instead of being delivered as text messages — unless the former customer switches off the “iMessage” function on their old iPhone.

Even in cases where former iPhone customers had switched off the iMessage functions, Moore and others allege that Apple still failed to deliver text messages.

All of this led Moore to file a lawsuit in May, on behalf of herself and other former iPhone users, that accused Apple of using the missing iMessages as a tactic to dissuade people from switching from Apple.

In Monday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh appeared to give this theory some credit, refusing Apple’s request to throw out the lawsuit, and permitting Moore to go forward with “a tortious interference with contract” claim — in plain English, this means that Apple illegally interfered with Moore’s contract with her phone carrier, Verizon. (Koh did, however, throw out other claims based on unfair business practices.)

While the case is not yet a sure win for the former iPhone customers, Monday’s ruling means they cleared a major procedural hurdle that will likely lead Apple to settle the case. The company declined an email request to comment.

Meanwhile, Apple finally introduced an easier way this week for former iPhone users to escape the “iMessage abyss,” by providing a website where people can simply enter their phone number.

Here’s a copy of the ruling with some of the relevant bits underlined:

Apple IMessage Case

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