APPLE has offered to refund Australian buyers of its newest iPad after the country's consumer watchdog accused the US computer giant of making misleading claims about the best-selling tablet.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken legal action to ensure that Apple makes consumers aware that its third-generation iPad cannot connect to a fourth-generation (4G) mobile data network - which offers high speeds to internet users - in Australia.
Apple rolled out the latest iPad tablet on 16 March. The upgrade received a rapturous reception from gadget enthusiasts and has sold millions. But in in response to complaints in Australia, the company agreed to post warnings about the technical issue.
Apple said it would also send emails offering a refund to all Australian buyers of the device.
In documents filed at a Federal Court in Melbourne, the ACCC said Apple had advertised that its "iPad with Wi-Fi can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, which it cannot do".
"[Apple] seems to accept that there is a lack of compatibility," said Colin Golvan, the senior counsel for the ACCC. "It has been completely indifferent to the Australian market." A trial has been set for 2 May, with a hearing a preceding that on 16 April.
Apple promoted its third-generation tablet as the iPad with Wi-Fi+4G, but Australia has only one 4G network, operated by Telstra, which uses a different frequency to the one compatible with the new iPad.
Optus, the Australian unit of Singapore Telecommunications, is due to launch a second 4G network in the country in April but that will not be iPad-compatible either. Besides the issue in Australia, Apple is waging a battle with a Chinese technology company, Proview, which claims to own the iPad trademark in China.