While the iPad won't be available for purchase abroad until the end of May, Israel's Communications Ministry has already instituted an import ban on Apple's much-hyped tablet computer. Customs agents have already confiscated 10 iPads from travelers, and authorities are vowing to seize any iPad they find. What's behind Israel's iPad prohibition? (Watch a report about Israel's iPad ban)
UPDATE (4.26.10): Israel will now allow the importation of the iPad, with one unit allowed per person.
Why did Israel ban the iPad?
According to Israeli officials, the U.S. version of the iPad broadcasts its Wi-Fi signal at higher power levels than Israeli regulations allow. A sudden jump in use of the iPad could use too much bandwidth or disrupt other, lower-powered wireless devices on the same frequency, Nati Schubert, a senior deputy director for the Communications Ministry tells the Associated Press. "We don't care where people buy their equipment," Schubert says. "But without regulation, you would have chaos." According to an Apple spokesperson, however, the "iPad complies with international industry standards for Wi-Fi specifications."
How have people reacted to the ban?
Many bloggers are saying Israel's technical explanation for the ban doesn't make sense. Israeli 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," says Charles Levinson in the Wall Street Journal. But still, many people remain dissatisfied with Israel's reasoning. "There's got to be more to this than" the reasons given by Israel, says Jeffery Goldberg in The Atlantic. "Though what it is I don't know."
Have other countries banned the iPad?
No. Although Israel's Wi-Fi standards are similar to those of many European nations, Israel is the only country to have instituted a ban.
Has Israel banned Apple products before?
Yes. The iPhone wasn't cleared for use in the country until December of 2009. Around 100,000 iPhones were imported illegally during the two years before Israel's official iPhone launch, which was reportedly delayed due to the iPhone's inability to write Hebrew, which goes from right to left. This reason, however, further sparked conspiracy theories over the delay, since other countries whose languages are written from right to left had already officially received the iPhone.
What happens if your iPad is taken?
Israeli custom officials will hold your iPad in storage — for a fee — until you leave the country.
Will the ban have any negative effects on Israelis?
Yes, a few. In addition to preventing people in Israel from purchasing the new device, a number of Israel-based Apple application developers won't have access to the product for which they are creating apps. "There are several hundred people in Israel who make their livelihood developing apps," says Amnon, an Israeli software developer. "There are going to be companies that suffer, because they can't deliver the services they're supposed to be delivering"
Will the iPad ever be allowed in Israel?
Probably. According to spokesman Schubert, the government expects Apple to resolve the issue before the iPad's international release next month. What specifications will change, however, remain unclear.