Apr 18, 2010

Israel bans the iPad

The Wall Street Journal has an article discussing the ban on bringing Apple iPads into Israel. The official reason for the ban by the Israeli government is that the iPad uses wifi technology that meets US standards, while Israel works with wifi that uses European standards. The US wifi is more powerful than the European wifi, and therefore Israel cannot allow in the iPad until it is reconfigured with European standards.

The WSJ article comments on that comparing it to other Apple products, and other US products that have wifi such as Blackberry phones and laptops that come fro the US with wifi and do not get banned or confiscated.

"This device's wireless strengths violate Israeli law and will overpower other wireless devices in Israel," ministry spokesman Yechiel Shavi said.

Mr. Shavi said once Apple releases a version of the device built according to European wireless specifications, the ban will be reversed. An Apple spokeswoman said the "iPad complies with international industry standards for Wi-Fi specifications."

The decision has left many scratching their heads. Travelers have been bringing laptops and cellphones configured to U.S. standards, including other Apple devices with the same wireless configuration, into Israel for years without incident. Some Israeli lawmakers alleged on Friday the decision undermines Israel's status as a global leader in the high-tech industry.

[...]

The ban has triggered an angry wave of criticism in Israel, as gadget-happy Israeli consumers fear they will once again be forced to watch with envy as the rest of the world enjoys the latest high-tech toy, as happened with Apple's iPhone which was released in Israel months after it debuted in the U.S. and Europe. Retailers who ordered shipments of the iPad fear their stock will be confiscated at customs.

Mr. Shavi, the ministry spokesman, said anyone who brought wireless devices configured to U.S. standards into Israel in the past should have declared them to customs officials and could have had their devices confiscated. But he didn't know of any incidents in which devices were confiscated.

Some technology experts have speculated the ban could have to do with fears that the more powerful wireless frequency used by American devices could interfere with Israeli military communications technology. Unlike MacBook computers, the iPad uses the same wireless chip as the iPhone, which has a radio receiver and transmitter.

Israel's government has in the past stood up to tech powerhouses. In 2003, the government temporarily suspended purchases of Microsoft Corp.'s software and openly encouraged open source alternatives due to a pricing dispute.

What is perhaps even more interesting, as the WSJ article itself doesn't really say much, is the comments on the article. Readers compare it to other situations and suggest all Israel is waiting for is some bribe money to the right officials, compare it to issues of peace making, and more, with some decent suggestions thrown in as well....

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