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Friday, 08 June 2012 19:08

ACCC’s hollow $2.25m ‘victory’ against iPad 4G ‘claims’

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Government busybodies at Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission are probably feeling smug now that they’ve taken a second bite out of Apple, but all they’ve done, in my humble opinion, is steal over $2m from the world’s best tech company.

OPINION: The ACCC is Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission, and while its website seems to be littered with victories against companies who have done Australians wrong, Australians are still suffering under petrol and grocery oligopolies the Government is powerless to do anything about.

Instead, the ACCC has gone after Apple, whose original 4G-capable iPad, a device which still connects to US and Canadian 4G networks despite the ACCC’s “win” in court today (as reported by The Australian) is the fastest iPad yet, operating at faster speeds on 3G and 4G networks than any previous iPad before it.

One of the ACCC’s legal eagles was reported by The Australian as seeking a “proposed settlement” of AUD $2.25m, on top of an additional $300,000 for legal costs.

That’s over AUD $2.5m because Apple advertised its 4G-capable device as being 4G capable, while noting in its marketing materials that the 4G capabilities were for the US and Canada only - at least until the rest of the world catches up.

Presumably the fine-print ACCC lawyers who specialise in fine print were unable to read Apple’s fine print on this occasion, and presumably, they were unable to read the numerous technology publication articles that explained Australia’s 4G networks weren’t compatible.

They were also presumably unable to read the LARGE, CLEAR signs at stores like JB HiFi which clearly explained the non-Aussie 4G compatibility as was the case when I purchased my new iPad from a JB HiFi on the Monday 19th March following the iPad's Friday 16th March launch.

However, the ACCC has to be seen to be doing something to justify its taxpayer funded budget each year, so, instead of going after supermarkets and their petrol interests, affecting each and every Australian today, Apple is instead the ACCC’s target.

I’m no lawyer, but the ACCC’s actions are, in my eyes, a total waste of time, a total waste of money, shameful, disgusting and typical of Government busybodies sticking their noses into everyone else’s business.

The fine certainly has no impact on Apple, it has $100b in cash after all, what’s $2.5m in that scenario? Chicken feed. It’s worth paying the ACCC just to shut it up and get its attack dogs pointing in some other direction.

For the sake of all iDevice loving Australians, I can only hope and pray that Apple does not decide to make Australians wait a bit longer for the iPhone 5 or the next iPad while it perhaps “checks” everything to ensure no ACCC interference the next time around.

If this were to happen, I’d imagine there’d be people ready to rip into Apple for making us wait, but if it does happen, I’ll be glaring disgustedly at the ACCC for giving Apple a reason to “punish” Australia.

Shame, ACCC, shame - and shame on those who will rip into me for expressing my extreme disappointment with the timewasters and wage collectors at the ACCC.

When Australians are suffering every single day over ACCC inaction over supermarket and petrol pricing rip-offs that continue unabated, it looks like this little and ultimately inconsequential Apple-bashing sideshow is the best the ACCC can do. Shame!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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