Selling iPads in Taiwan is illegal, so gray marketers are giving them away with the purchase of outrageously high priced accessories. The country’s National Communications Commission (NCC), which issues licenses for all wireless devices, has yet to approve the tablet. Under Taiwanese law, people are allowed to buy the device abroad and bring it back into the country, but they are not allowed to sell it in Taiwan. Many enterprising auction-site sellers figure that gives them a loophole to exploit and thus a substantial market for gray import iPads (generally from Japan and Hong Kong) was created. As long as they charge for the case and not the actual iPad inside, they figure they are not breaking the law. Many sites charge up to NT$33,000 ($1060) for the iPad case and the buyer would get a free iPad with 3G wireless and 64 gigabytes of memory.
According to a public relations official at the NCC, these entrepreneurs are actually breaking the law. The official did not comment further on how the laws had been broken and added that the Commission has no plans to prosecute. According to NCC, Yahoo!, Which hosts these auction sites, is legally in the clear.
Consumers bought over 7.9 million iPads worldwide by the end of September of 2010, according to industry analyst iConsultants Global Business Solutions. Rather than exacerbate supply problems by offering the iPad in all countries at once, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been introducing the iPads in different phases. The tablet has become available in Singapore and China since the 3rd quarter of this year and would no doubt become legally available in Taiwan in the near future. According to a spokesman at NCC, Apple Inc. had submitted its application for licensing in August and the application is still being processed. No approval has been granted yet. It would seem that Apple may not be able to release its device in Taiwan just yet as its OS does not currently support the local writing system. While the iPad is compatible with the “simplified Chinese character” system adopted by China, it cannot recognize intelligently the more “complex traditional Chinese” used in Taiwan. The earliest possible launch of the iPad may be in November when an upgrade of the tablet’s operating system to iOS 4.2 would allow Taiwanese users to input traditional complex Chinese characters.
Until then, free iPad anyone ?
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