People in the United States are flocking to Apple stores to buy the company's latest must-have gadget, the iPad. But Israel is turning its back on the tablet, banning imports and even tourists from bringing them into the country.
It's nothing personal against Apple. It's just that the iPad's powerful wireless signal could interfere with other devices. Here in the U.S., devices with Wi-Fi capability transmit more powerful signals than are allowed in Israel and Europe. So the iPad's strong signal could mess with other wireless devices.
"If you operate equipment in a frequency band which is different from the others that operate on that frequency band, then there will be interference," said Nati Schubert, a senior deputy director for the Communications Ministry. "We don't care where people buy their equipment. ... But without regulation, you would have chaos."
Customs officials said Thursday that they have already confiscated about 10 iPads since Israel announced the new regulations this week. Tourists who are oblivious to the rule will have their iPads confiscated at the airport. They can either leave it there with a daily storage fee and pick it up on the way out, or pay to ship it back home.
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Some Israelis successfully got the devices into Israel before the ban. One software developer who has one said he and others need them to develop applications for the iPad.
"There are several hundred people in Israel who make their livelihood developing apps ... and there are going to be companies that suffer, because they can't deliver the services they're supposed to be delivering," he said.
Apple this week delayed the international launch of the iPad until May 10. Israel hopes to have the wireless signal issue resolved by then.