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Apple fined $2.29 mln over Australian '4G' iPad
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) June 21, 2012


Microsoft tablet to have little impact in 2012: analyst
Washington (AFP) June 20, 2012 - Even with its highly publicized launch of a new tablet computer, Microsoft is expected to have little impact this year on the fast-growing market, a research firm said Wednesday.

ABI Research expects Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT-based tablets to account for only 1.3 percent of 2012 global shipments.

This is because there is a dearth of products using the existing Windows 7 operating system and the new Windows RT and Windows 8 operating systems are likely to hit the market in October.

Microsoft, which has been largely absent from the tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad, said this week it would launch its own branded tablet his year called Surface. But many details and pricing were not revealed.

"The obvious 'low hanging' market opportunity for Microsoft's Surface tablets is with business buyers that have an installed base of Windows PCs," ABI said.

"Microsoft may face an uphill battle by throwing its hat into the mobile computing tablet ring."

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer described the iPad challenger -- complete with a built-in stand and ultra thin covers-cum-keyboards in a range of colors -- as a tablet that "works and plays."

The Surface features a flip-out rear "kickstand" to prop it up like a picture frame and can be combined with a 3mm-thick Touch Cover that, when opened, acts as a keypad so tablets could be switched into "desktop" mode.

Apple was Thursday fined Aus$2.25 million (US$2.29 million) for "deliberately" misleading Australian consumers about the local 4G capability of its latest iPad.

The tech giant was also ordered to pay Aus$300,000 in costs by the Federal Court in a case brought by regulators, who said the penalty sent a message to global companies that there were consequences for breaching the law.

Justice Mordy Bromberg found that Apple misled people with claims in its advertising implying that the "iPad with WiFi + 4G" could connect with fourth generation cellular networks in Australia, when it could not.

The judgment ruled that the company engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public and contravened Australian consumer law.

"The conduct concerned was deliberate and very serious," Bromberg said.

"It exposed a significant proportion of Australian consumers of tablet devices to a misleading representation."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which initiated the proceedings, said it was delighted with the outcome.

"The $2.25 million penalty reflects the seriousness of a company the size of Apple refusing to change its advertising when it has been put on notice that it is likely to be misleading consumers," chairman Rod Sims said.

"This decision should act as a renewed warning that the ACCC will continue to take action against traders who take risks in their advertising, regardless of their size."

Apple offered in March to refund customers who felt they had been duped, and to publish a clarification about the popular tablet's capabilities.

The product is now advertised outside North America as "Wi-Fi + Cellular" -- a change that came into effect on May 12 -- with a clear caveat on its Australian site that "it is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE and WiMax networks."

The iPad's 4G capabilities are supported by some networks in the US and Canada.

Matthew Rimmer, an expert in intellectual property at the Australian National University, said Apple had been "careless".

"It shows some of the dangers involved in overhyping products and sets a very important precedent," he said, adding that other countries would take note of the outcome.

Asked if it could open the floodgates to similar law suits elsewhere, he said: "It all depends on the nature of consumer regulations in each country."

Earlier this month, Apple agreed to settle the case with the ACCC.

But Bromberg delayed an official ruling until he had details on how many iPads had been sold and were returned under the refund offer and further information on Apple's financial position.

He said Thursday the risk of contravening Australian consumer law would have been "reasonably obvious" to Apple.

"In that context, and in the absence of any other explanation, the facts to which I have just referred suggest that Apple's desire for global uniformity was given a greater priority than the need to ensure compliance with the Australian consumer law," he said.

"Conduct of that kind is serious and unacceptable."

The iPad was the world's best-selling tablet in the first three months of 2012, outgunning its Android-powered rivals, with sales more than doubling from a year earlier to send Apple's profits soaring.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

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