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Thursday, April 15, 2010

iPads banned from Israel

For the time being, at least, the picture below is about as close as Israelis are likely to get to an iPad.

Every once in a while, the government does something to remind us that at heart, they really would prefer to run the country like a banana republic. This is one of those times. The government has banned iPads, and if you try to bring one in and are caught, customs will confiscate them at the airport (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).

Officials said the iPad's broadcast WiFi power levels are not compatible with Israeli standards, which are closer to European standards than American ones. The Communications Ministry is in the process of acquiring information on the iPad to begin the process of approving importation.

In the meantime, anyone found in possession of an iPad, such as business people coming into the country, are having their computers confiscated by customs. Customs is charging a storage fee to those who leave their iPads in its care while in country. Anyone trying to sneak an iPad into Israel may be subject to a fine.
If the United States' WiFi power levels aren't compatible with Israel's, why does have the country use IBM Think Pads and their successors from Lenovo? Israeltech.net explains that there are other factors at work here.
Once again Israeli buyers of a hip gadget are about to get ripped off – with the “authorities” doing everything they can to make sure they get “theirs” (as in their money) out of the pockets of the schnook customer.

I know it sounds cynical, but it’s the only logical explanation I can come up with for why the Communications Ministry is banning iPads from Israel. In this age of instant communications, fast and efficient shipping, and open markets (ie nearly zero customs duties), getting a device like an iPad should be a piece of cake. For example, at this site, with shipping costs and taxes, you would be able to have a $499 iPad delivered directly from Apple in the U.S. to any Israeli address for $660 – a pretty reasonable price.

But like with so many other items (coincidentally, mostly from Apple), the markup is going to be much higher, because “they” are going to do their best to prevent customers from getting reasonably priced iPads – basically forcing Israelis who want one to get it from the local Apple license-holder (the iDigital retail store, which is NOT an Apple store!) for a premium price, just like they did with the iPhone. The difference is that the iPhone was a lot easier to hide, so the customs people have a much better chance of nabbing iPads when people try to smuggle them in!

He also attempts to answer my question about the WiFi standards (basically I was right) and provides an entertaining video. Read the whole thing.

Israeltech didn't do one thing: He didn't follow the money.
iDigital Ltd., owned by Nehemia Peres, has bought the exclusive franchise rights in Israel for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:APPL) products from Yeda Computers and Software (Israel 1982) Ltd., which has had the franchise for 25 years. Market sources had predicted in July that Peres would buy the franchise.

The size of the deal was not disclosed, but Peres Yeda Computers owner and managing director Yitzhak Radoshkewitz reportedly negotiated at a price tag of several million dollars.

iDigital said that it planned to open several stores across Israel with the goal of “accelerating marketing, sales, and the user experience of the Apple brand.” iDigital CEO Eran Tor was formerly the general manager of Reckitt Benckiser (Near East). The company is owned by a group of private investors headed by partners of Pitango Venture Capital.
Nehemia Peres is one of the lead partners in Pitango. You may not recognize his name, but you might recognize his father's name: Shimon Peres. Hmmm.


At 5:21 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

Pretty weak excuse, all in all. Sounds like someone's palm wasn't sufficiently greased to me.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe someone can make a deal with Hamas to smuggle ipads through the Egyptian tunnels!


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