NEW YORK - Apple, the most profitable handset vendor, and the wireless unit of AT&T have been sued by a customer and accused of misleading buyers of iPhones.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and AT&T, the second-largest US mobile-telephone company, misled consumers when they said the iPhone would have "multimedia messaging service" capability, the customer said yesterday in a proposed class-action complaint in the US District Court in New York.
The feature allows users to send pictures to each others' phones.
"MMS functionality was one of the reasons people chose to buy or upgrade" to an iPhone, and it has become "clear that AT&T's network does not support MMS," according to the complaint.
"When and if AT&T upgrades its network, the millions of iPhone purchasers will get what they bargained for in terms of MMS," the complaint maintains.
"In the meantime, all the millions of purchasers of the 3G and 3GS iPhones have been deceived and cheated out of what they thought they were purchasing - a cellphone with MMS functionality."
Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, said the company does offer the messaging feature.
"The plain fact is we're offering MMS for the iPhone 3G," he said in an interview.
Apple doesn't comment on pending litigation, said spokeswoman Susan Lundgren.
The plaintiff, Francis Monticelli of New York, is suing on behalf of himself and other buyers of the iPhone. He asked for unspecified money damages. Similar lawsuits against the companies have been filed elsewhere.
Apple's third-quarter operating profit from iPhone sales was US$1.6 billion, Neil Mawston and Alex Spektor, analysts for Boston-based Strategy Analytics, reported last week. The iPhone is sold in about 80 countries. It went on sale last month in China.