Australia vs. Apple: iPad 3 faces sales ban

Australia vs. Apple: iPad 3 faces sales ban

Summary: Australia's competition regulator could impose a sales ban on the iPad 3, after it claimed Apple was "misleading" consumers on its 4G LTE capability.

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European, Australian iPad 3 owners: disappointed that your brand new tablet will not connect to your network's 4G LTE service? Join the club, as so is the Australian government.

Australian competition regulators are in the process of asking a federal court to force Apple into ensuring that customers know that their new iPad 3 will not run on the country's next-generation mobile broadband network, and instead be relegated to 3G speeds.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said that Australian law is being violated, and could impose massive fines, or even a sales injunction, forcing the shiny slab from the store shelves.

"The ACCC is seeking urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device," the regulator said, which is technical talk for: "Apple, stop it."

iFixit, when tearing open the iPad, noticed a sticker stating that: "This product is not compatible with Australian 4G LTE networks". Mark Thomas explained the sticker. He tweeted: "The sticker on the new iPad was a Telstra initiative and is placed by Telstra on all new iPads sold by them."

The 4G LTE-enabled iPad 3 only works across two U.S. networks, AT&T and Verizon. Even though the two 4G services are the same and operate in the same 700MHz band, the two networks require different hardware, forcing Apple to create a special iPad for each network.

Outside of North America, however, 4G LTE just won't work.

For example, in the UK, the 700MHz band is reserved for free-to-air digital television, causing somewhat of a panic amongst British telly watchers. In Australia, the 4G services operate on an 1800Mhz band, outside the realm of the 700MHz or 2100MHz band required.

Only 4G-enabled versions of the iPad 3 would be affected. Wi-Fi only enabled iPad 3's should still be available for sale. But a sales injunction would be reminiscent of Apple forcing the Samsung Galaxy Tab off the market just before Christmas in what could become a rather ironic twist.

The regulator can fine Apple up to A$10 million ($10.5m), or three times the value of the revenue collected from the deemed illegal act. This alone could run into the tens of millions. Worse for Apple, if the company fails to fork over its sales figures for Australia, it could be served a fine of up to 10 percent of its Australian annual turnover.

Very ouch.

An Apple spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

Image source: iFixit.

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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54 comments
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  • Definitely.

    I keep seeing advertised everywhere here as the 4G iPad, but in all the stores I've gone into that have had it (ie. JB Hifi, Harvey Norman, etc.) they have had signs up near them saying "3G only".

    I hope they get hit with a ban until they clean up the mess, because if it's not false advertising, it's bait and switch as far as I am concerned: offer one product but offer a lesser product for the same\greater price.
    douglasac10
    • Not that I'm defending Apple but

      it technially [b]is[/b] 4G, so they aren't lying, or making any false claims

      The fact that the 4G network there is incompatible isn't a fault of the device being defective or anything, which is how I think Apple will defend it, as take your ipad to American and you'll be able to use the 4G capability.

      Unless they're claiming it will operate at 4G in Australia, which would be a blatent lie.
      William Farrel
      • That's really a stretch

        Technically, the iPad will survive a 100 foot drop without a scratch - you simply drop it from 101 feet above the ground.
        john-whorfin
  • This is just like the Siri issue

    This is just like the Siri issue, a disclaimer on the Commercial would have avoided these issues but, fine print suggests everything is not as it appears and Apple likely didn't want that.

    I don't understand though, if 4G isn't supported then why not just say, "4G may not be supported in all areas".
    slickjim
    • Because That's Already True

      They can't just say, "4G may not be supported in all areas," because that statement is already true, and doesn't give an accurate impression. There is no 4G service in my area yet, for example, but that's because there are no 4G enabled cell towers, not because the iPad doesn't work with the 4G that will be offered here. They would have to be more specific and say that 4G was not available outside the United States. It would probably be better to have a totally different ad campaign, which didn't claim 4G capability, for places where 4G was not planned for the iPad.
      CFWhitman
    • In reading between the lines, 4g is the real issue...

      4G may not be supported??? Don't you mean 4G may be effed over and incompatible all over the world. Why is it that what is called 4G LTE networks are different all over the world? Shouldn't we have a IEEE standard for these things? Every company who wants to sell a 4G LTE product globally is going to run into the same FUBAR'd situation. This isn't an Apple only situation, this affects everything. The whole world can adhere to other standards, why not 4G???
      i8thecat4
      • There is a standard

        The standard for LTE was set by the 3GPP in Release 8 and had small changes in Release 9.
        http://www.3gpp.org/LTE
        nab123
  • It's market on Apples Australian website

    The fine print reads:

    "4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US; and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada"
    financegozu
    • Well if it says that

      Then I say they are covered.
      bobiroc
      • No

        In Australia, the fine print means nothing IF on the rest of the box says 4G.
        There is / there will be 4G in Australia, but the iPad is not compatible with that 4G.
        Apple should not even mention 4G in their advertising in Australia.
        H3llb0und
  • Tens of millions of dollars is pocket lint to Apple

    Lets be honest here, with billions and billions and billions of dollars they could afford a fine of "tens of millions" without even a sniffle.
    Doug0915
    • It's not about the affordability of the relatively small fines for Apple,

      it's about the bad publicity, which, if there are enough of them gathering in the public square and on the airwaves and on the internet, eventually, it becomes more about the perception that, Apple's products don't perform as people expect, and their reputation and sales will start to suffer. You can be dismissive about the small fines, and about one or two problems, but, when the public starts to get the perception that, perhaps Apple is more about the sales volume and not about the quality and performance of their products, then you can start expecting that, Apple's best days have passed.
      adornoe
    • Frankly!

      That's an arrogant and stupid comment!!
      eargasm
  • 4g wtand up

    T mobile has true 4g. Nope. Sprint's wimax is true 4g
    flyguy29
  • Apple gets in a lot of trouble about lying

    In England, Italy, and now Australia, Apple gets caught over and over again lying to its consumers. This seems to be part of Apple's corporate culture.
    toddbottom3
    • They don't lie

      They just tell their version of the truth in an effort to confuse consumers that will willing wait in line to buy Apple's next shiny gadget. Just like Macs don't get viruses that confused many consumers and allow the trolls to come to every news bit and blog about a MacOS security alert or malware alert and say "At least it is not a virus"
      bobiroc
  • Apple Almighty...

    Playing Cr Apple again.
    Sceptical Observer
  • If they know another region of the world has incompatible service

    Then they should list that somewhere on their website and when the product is sold. They cannot simply say 4G not available in all areas as that implies that some areas may not have 4G capable towers which people will understand. It is a totally different story if an area has 4G-LTE but is just not compatible due to Apple not having the hardware to support it. I understand they cannot disclaimer everything but sometimes lack of features are left out of their product descriptions and you have to wonder if it is on purpose to deceive or just out of their own ignorance.
    bobiroc
  • Still wondering when ZDNET can't learn the products name

    Sorry, but Apple never released an "iPad 3". If they do release an iPad 3 then your articles are going to cause such confusion. It's the New iPad. Not New iPad 2 either. They've dropped the 2 and put the word "New" in there. It's not that difficult if you try...
    iansumuk