Apple gives in: iPad 3 drops '4G' tag to avoid lawsuits

Apple gives in: iPad 3 drops '4G' tag to avoid lawsuits

Summary: Apple gives in to regulatory pressure by removing any mention of "4G" from its websites, after hundreds of complaints that the iPad 3 will not connect to high-speed networks.

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In silence and without comment, Apple has quietly dropped the "4G" tag from its new iPad 3 tablet in favour of the legal-friendly "Cellular" term.

The Cupertino-based tablet maker had faced litigation in Australia and criticism from a number of European consumer groups after it was found the 4G-capable devices would not work outside the United States and Canada, despite no change in global marketing.

Apple's U.K. and Australia online retail stores have both replaced the "4G" tag in favour of "Cellular" to appease both consumer groups, Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the UK's Advertisement Standards Authority (ASA).

The ACCC said Apple had deceived its customers for claiming the new and shiny rectangle could access Australian 4G networks. Apple responded by saying it will make it clear that the iPad 3 will not work on 4G networks.

Apple had even tried to change the term '3G' into '4G' in a bid to avoid the complaints. Terms like '2G', '3G' and '4G' are not industry-defined, and speeds can vary across networks.

Apple has now made it crystal clear that Australia's 4G networks are not compatible with the tablet with a clear statement on its website (see above).

In the U.K., a number of complaints by customers pushed the ASA into acting against Apple for its misleading advertisements. The regulator had received "dozens of complaints" from customers, and had pushed for Apple to remove any mentions of "4G" from its websites. It should come as little surprise considering Britain has yet to see its mobile networks divide up its 4G spectrum without bickering furiously about it.

Some networks had even opted to avoid litigation directed at them by including stickers to inform potential buyers that the new iPad will not work on existing 4G networks, or even 4G networks that don't even exist yet.

This should come as bittersweet news for consumers. Apple has already sold millions of iPads across the U.K., Europe and Australia, while the vast majority are unaware that they will not be able to connect to high-speed mobile broadband networks.

Most iPad 3 buyers will not return to the stores with their tablet to demand a refund. While Apple cowers in the face of trans-Pacific litigation and regulatory fire, it revels in the vast profits it has generated amid the controversy.

It's a win for consumers, but it's an even greater win for Apple. It has now complied with both Australian and U.K. regulators, and will likely follow suit in other countries it has a presence in.

Apple did not comment at the time of writing.

Image credit: ZDNet.

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Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Legal, Mobility, Tablets, Wi-Fi

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19 comments
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  • Apple really had no choice

    On this issue, I believe that the ACCC are correct.

    I am fairly certain that few, if any, iPads were returned to Apple, but that is not the issue. The issue is about false or incorrectly advertising the capabilities of a product.
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • Apple never advertised "4G" outside of USA

      And the only place where people could see "4G" was Apple's site, where it was specifically marked that "4G" works only in five countries.

      But still "4G" was part of the branding, so it is more correct now when they do not show it any more.
      DDERSSS
      • I see you still willing to apologize, or make excuses for Apple,

        even when they do not.

        They should be pleased to have customers like you willing to fall on your sword for them.
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • Which "excuses"? Apple never specifically "advertised" iPad as "4G", nor ..

        @Mister Spock: ... they ever described its characteristics without mentioning where exactly 4G works.

        So Apple was not misguiding buyers. However, since many buyers easily get confused and even with clear disclaimer might still got wrong ideas, as I said, it is better to exclude "4G" at all.
        DDERSSS
      • Apple did advertise the new ipad with 4G in Australia

        I'm in Australia and Apple had the new iPad on display using the 4G tag to denote the version with cellular connectivity. Next to that was a little disclaimer saying it doesn't work with 'high speed' mobile networks in Australia. It doesn't even specifically say it doesn't work with Australian 4G networks. It tries to avoid saying exactly that. Any buyer without a clue about mobile networks would still think the new iPad has 4G capability in Australia.
        warboat
    • Re: "Apple did not comment at the time of writing."

      Gee whiz Zack, I'm not surprised I wouldn't comment back to a commentator either, who seems to be having a little baby fit. Esp. with comments like : "claiming the new and shiny rectangle" what would you expect.

      You're supposed to be a professional, it's time to put on your big boy pants and start acting like one, instead of a little spoiled brat who can't have his candy before meal time.....You related to TD3 by any chance?

      Now, I do agree that if Apple did advertise it would work on Europe's 4G network and it doesn't, then they are at fault, and it sounds like they've resolved the issue.

      But at the same time, if according to you, "a number of complaints by customers pushed the ASA into acting against Apple for its misleading advertisements. The regulator had received ???dozens of complaints??? from customers", how many of these dis-gruntled users have returned their Ipad's?

      I would be very interested in seeing those stats, if they actually exist.........

      Thanks....
      T-Wrench
  • Here is a question

    Are Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia and the others going to be sued for doing the exact same thing? Apple is not claiming 4G capabilities outside of US. Neither are other makers.

    Just because people assume they are getting something that is NOT being advertized doesn't mean that that is what they will be getting. Nether Apple or other makers are advertizing capabilities outside of the areas where they are being offered.

    Now, how about the carriers?? Verizon and AT&T claim 4G all over, when neither are providing the service (fyi: LTE is nowhere near meeting 4G specs). And to make matters worst, we have Verizon pushing LTE phones .. where there ain't any LTE service (which is over 90% of their service areas).
    wackoae
    • I am in an area where Wimax offered...

      In Japan, I have the wiimax version of the GS II. It connects (sometimes!!) but only get speeds at 3G or less. Never had anything over 3G speeds. Will be making a complaint and demanding extra money paid each month for Wiimax service back.
      tora201
      • I do not believe that KDDI market WiMAX as 4G.

        I do not believe that KDDI market WiMAX as 4G.
        illegaloperation
    • ACCC point is the '4G' was part of the model description

      ACCC does not consider fine print a valid caveat format. There must be no indicators that might give the wrong impression.

      By convention in Australia, LTE and WiMax are considered 4G, whereas HDPA+ is not.
      Patanjali
      • That makes sense

        Apple did the equivalent of:
        [b]OUR PRODUCTS CURE CANCER[/b]*.

        *no they don't
        toddbottom3
      • toddtroll3

        "Apple did the equivalent of:
        OUR PRODUCTS CURE CANCER*.

        *no they don't "
        According to you only Microsoft products have that magical power.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
  • really?

    "Most iPad 3 buyers will not return to the stores with their tablet to demand a refund. While Apple cowers in the face of trans-Pacific litigation and regulatory fire, it revels in the vast profits it has generated amid the controversy."

    you make it sound like they only made a profit because of this... like no one ever bought an iPad 1 or iPad 2... it wasn't until they said 4G! now they are actually selling? Apple hasn't done anything wrong just because a few people who started this fight were not smart enough to understand what was going on.
    doh123
  • huh?

    "It???s a win for consumers, but it???s an even greater win for Apple. It has now complied with both Australian and U.K. regulators, and will likely follow suit in other countries it has a presence in." .... um what?
    How was this a "win" for Apple in any way shape or form of the term? They got caught trying to deceive customers, backed off, and still face false advertising suits. If anything this hurts them. This proves they where wrong, and in court would be used against them.
    topgun966
    • It DOES hurt Apple.

      Quite a few customers will have lost considerable trust in Apple.
      For any company to start losing their customers trust, is very expensive in the long run.
      It is the kind of thing that tends to increase by itself, once it is started.
      To rebuild trust is VERY costly.
      hkommedal
  • still arrogant...

    It's still very arrogant of Apple to say "it's not compatible with current Australian 4G networks".

    A more accurate description would be. .."it's not currently compatible with Australian 4G networks".
    See the difference. It's not like Australia should change their 4G frequency allocation. (which is likely to be more of a world standard than is used in the U.S.)

    It may be subtle, but very Apple.
    nmasson
    • Wow, I missed that above

      Yet another reason to avoid Apple. Arrogance creates more problems.
      grayknight-22253692004129760887070084760051
  • Quit lying Apple

    Wonder when they will back track on pathetic Siri? When asked what was the best cell phone it said one of Apple's competitors. lol Please update that dated OS the oldest on any digital device on the market. It would be the equivilent of Microsoft still pushing Windows Me. lol
    techenduser
  • read the latest magazines for free !!!! no registration required yayyy !!!

    Read the latest iPad and iPhone user magazine online for FREE!!! only on http://readmymag.com/2012/05/ipad-iphone-user-no-61-2012/
    shahrukhmehta