Israel’s Communications Ministry banned the import of Apple’s iPad yesterday following a tiff between its minister and engineering staff, and custom officials are now directed to confiscate the tablet computer. Ten iPads have been seized already at Ben-Gurion International, according to the airport’s head of customs, and those unlucky owners are being charged a daily storage rate.
Ministry officials say the reason for the ban is tied to the iPad’s WiFi modem, which they worry will interfere with the Israeli network, according to Haaretz:
The decision follows the refusal of the ministry’s engineering staff to compromise on testing the device’s suitability and compliance with Israeli wireless networks.
It seems however that the engineers made their decision without notifying Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon in advance—and caused an uproar within the ministry.
For now, the ministry has not given the device categorical approval required for wireless devices; and ministry officials say its wireless technology is not compatible with Israeli standards.
“The iPad device sold exclusively today in the United States operates at broadcast power levels [over its WiFi modem] compatible with American standards,” explained the officials. “As the Israeli regulations in the area of WiFi are similar to European standards, which are different from American standards, which permit broadcasting at lower power, therefore the broadcast levels of the device prevent approving its use in Israel,” said the officials.
The ministry has requested all the relevant information on the iPad from Apple’s Israeli distributor, iDigital, so as to approve importing iPads.
The iPad runs on the iPhone OS, which doesn’t support Adobe Flash without a workaround, so portions of the Web (from movie sites to online gaming) won’t be available to iPad users. And according to Jobs, the device will run “almost all” of the iPhone apps—iPod Touch users will be happy to lend a sympathetic shoulder. Also like the Touch, iPad doesn’t feature a camera, much less a Webcam, video output, USB or firewire ports. And forget multitasking—running two or more apps at the same time—which we take for granted now on desktops and laptops.
As far as what’s under the hood, iPad is powered by a custom silicon chip called the A4 (1Ghz) and includes WiFi, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, compass, speaker, microphone, dock connector and 10-hour battery. Although the iPad isn’t designed to be a phone, Skype via WiFi will likely be an option. One thing Apple got right with the iPad was offering a peripheral keyboard dock in addition to its virtual keyboard. “If you’ve got to write ‘War and Peace,’ just plug your iPad in,” Jobs said.