UK’s Advertising Authority May Investigate Apple’s New iPad “4G” Claims


After getting into trouble over the use of the “4G” term for its new iPad in Australia and Netherlands, Apple may have to face the music in UK. The UK Advertising Standards Authority may be scrutinizing the marketing behind Apple’s new iPad, according to a report on Financial Times.

iPad 3 which supports faster 4G LTE networks is not compatible with 4G LTE networks outside US and Canada and in the case of UK, 4G LTE network is not available. In fact, the auction of spectrum assigned for 4G does not even begin until the end of the year.

Financial Times reports that mobile operators in the UK refused to use marketing material sent by Apple that had references to 4G.

One person at a leading mobile operator told the Financial Times: “It was an issue as marketing materials had references to WiFi and 4G. We asked them to change it and pushed back relatively hard on the 4G stuff. They normally tell us what to say and when, which is fine as they know their business, but suddenly they talk about the network and it went all wrong. The 4G references are going.”
Apple was forced to change the marketing material to operators, which now carry references to “ultra fast wireless” and “fast mobile data networks”. It has also updated its UK website.

Interestingly, it looks like Apple has made some more changes after the issue was first raised by regulators in Australia. Earlier, when you went to buy the new iPad on Apple’s UK online store, it had the following sub-text:

The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S. and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada.

It now just says:

This model can roam worldwide on fast mobile data networks, including HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA.

FT says that Apple may have not made the changes in time to avoid the scrutiny the UK Advertising Standards Authority.

It remains to be seen how UK’s advertising authority plans to penalize Apple. In Australia, in addition to making the changes on its website to say that the new iPad does not support current Australian 4G LTE networks, Apple had to also send out emails to customers offering customers a refund who felt they were misled by the use of the 4G term.

The situation in UK is a quite different in our opinion, it would be quite funny if iPad 3 users in the UK felt misled and asked for a refund over this issue as it was quite obvious that iPad 3 wouldn’t have been able to magically support 4G networks when they’re not available in UK.

What’s your take? Sound off in the comments.