Apple will email all buyers of its new iPad in Australia to offer them a refund, a lawyer for the company has said, following an accusation from the nation's consumer watchdog that the electronics giant misled consumers over a key aspect of the product.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has taken legal action to ensure Apple makes consumers aware that its third-generation iPad cannot use an advertised 4G mobile data connection in Australia.
Apple agreed to post warnings that its new iPad "is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE networks and WiMAX
networks" over the next week, said Paul Anastassiou, a lawyer for the company, on Wednesday.
In federal court documents, the ACCC says Apple advertised that its iPad could, with a wireless internet connection and a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, though it cannot.
Apple "seems to accept that there's a lack of compatibility", Colin Golvan, senior counsel for the ACCC, said at the Federal Court in Melbourne. "It's been completely indifferent to the Australian market."
A trial has been set for May 2, with a hearing preceding that on April 16.
Apple promoted the third-generation iPad with claims of wireless internet and 4G, but Australia has only one 4G network, operated by Telstra, which operates on a different frequency to the 4G on the iPad.
Optus, a Telstra rival and the Australian unit of Singapore Telecommunications, is due to launch a second 4G network in April that also will not be compatible with the iPad.
Apple rolled out the first wave of new iPad tablets on March 16.
While the iPad is the clear market leader, and the new version with its faster microchips, fourth-generation wireless and a sharper display is only expected to cement Apple's lead, the company has hit some bumps in the road.
It is waging a battle with a Chinese technology company, Proview, that claims to own the iPad trademark in China, in along-running dispute that has threatened to disrupt iPad sales in one of its fastest growing markets.
In Australia, a small but key launch market for Apple products, it lost a bid to ban the sales of Samsung's Galaxy tablet late last year. That battle is part of global patent war between the two firms that spans about 30 legal cases in 10 countries.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|