Official Complaints Over '4G' Marketing of New iPad Taking Hold in Europe

Yesterday, we noted that Australian regulators are targeting Apple over its "misleading" marketing of the new iPad as a "4G" device in the country despite the fact that the device is incompatible with LTE networks being rolled out there. In response, Apple has offered refunds to customers who feel they were misled by the marketing.

ipad lte signal
Concerns over the 4G marketing are now getting the attention of regulators in several European countries as well, with The Wall Street Journal noting that the Swedish Consumer Agency is also considering launching an investigation into the matter.

Marek Andersson, a lawyer at the authority whose task is to safeguard consumer interests in Sweden, said the consumer agency has received several complaints from consumers over marketing which touts the new iPad as having 4G connectivity. [...]

“One may rightfully ask if the marketing of the new iPad is misleading,” Mr. Andersson said. While iPad is equipped with 4G connectivity, it will only work in the U.S. and Canada.

“The question is whether this information is clear enough in Apple’s marketing,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pocket-lint reports that a similar situation is playing out in the United Kingdom, where the Advertising Standards Authority is also fielding complaints from customers about the issue.

“We are aware of the news from Australia regarding the iPad 4G marketing claim,” an ASA spokeswoman told us. “Without going through due process we can't say whether the (UK) ad is likely to be problematic. If anyone has concerns about the iPad ad then they can lodge a complaint with us and we will establish whether or not there is a problem under the Code.”

The UK has strict regulation of advertising claims, and Apple's marketing has been the subject of several decisions from the ASA. In 2008, the agency banned an iPhone ad over misleading claims, while a more recent decision regarding claims of the world's thinnest smartphone came down in Apple's favor. The ASA also ruled in Apple's favor last month in a dispute over advertising for Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Related Roundup: iPad
Tag: Europe
Buyer's Guide: iPad (Caution)
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Top Rated Comments

spcdust Avatar
161 months ago
I actually think if Apple are using the 4G capability of the new iPad to be a major part of their marketing strategy in countries that do not have 4G infrastructure in place then it's a fair point to bring them to task on this. It is somewhat dishonest to prominently highlight a feature that is incompatible / unavailable in a territory.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KnightWRX Avatar
161 months ago
every other company does the same thing.

Citation needed.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Adriendod Avatar
161 months ago
Nobody seems to have really understood the problem here..

It's not that these countries don't have 4G networks or whether or not Apple call it 4G for marketing reasons (as said above, everybody does).

The problem is that these countries HAVE 4G networks but don't work with the same frequencies that the US networks. The new iPad is only compatible with the US 4G frequencies.

They still sell it in other countries saying it's 4G, but even with a carrier with a 4G LTE network, it will not work.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
flynndean Avatar
161 months ago
We can expect the hammer to fall on Apple in the UK fairly shortly as well. I just received an email with the following text following my highlighting to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) of the ambiguity of Apple's Marketing:


"Dear Mr Flynn

Thank you for your recent complaint regarding. I am sorry to hear that this advert has caused you concern.

You may be interested to know that we have received a number of complaints about this ad for the reasons you describe. I will add your complaint to our file, and you can expect to hear from a member of our Investigations team in due course.

In the meantime I would like to thank you for your patience and for bringing this to our attention."


Before anybody jumps on my back, nobody is suing anybody, there are just many of us over in Europe and elsewhere (ie. anywhere that is not in North America) who take serious issue with something being advertised as "Wi-Fi + 4G" when the device concerned will NEVER support the frequency bandings that we as a region (in my case, the EU) have chosen as our standard for LTE (800/2600MHz). I don't care that the 3G capability is "almost as fast" as North American 4G, the EU and Ofcom in the UK define 4G as: "WiMAX, WiMAX2, LTE and LTE-Advanced", and "The New iPad" doesn't support any of these in any of the regions in which it is being advertised as 4G outside North America.

I realise this will hardly affect sales, but at least it shows Apple can't just waltz around making up it's own rules as it goes along.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Therbo Avatar
161 months ago
Even if Apple changes the name to just iPad Wifi+3G or Wifi+Data for Europe, everyone else in the world knows this as the 4G iPad.

Apple should just not mention 4G on the boxes shipped to Europe and take 4G off their European sites.

This is just so stupid. Europe is so far behind with 4G and LTE and has to use a different frequency. This is part apple's fault but Europe really needs to get with the program.

Exscuse me?

I think your find the US is the fault for the frequency fragmentation, all carriers in the EU use the same frequency bands, then the US started to launch GSM networks on weird wacky frequencies.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Winni Avatar
161 months ago
I actually think if Apple are using the 4G capability of the new iPad to be a major part of their marketing strategy in countries that do not have 4G infrastructure in place then it's a fair point to bring them to task on this. It is somewhat dishonest to prominently highlight a feature that is incompatible / unavailable in a territory.

European countries --DO-- have LTE infrastructure. It's just that the iPad is ONLY compatible with the LTE-infrastructure of the United States, but Apple's ads make you believe that the iPad will work with LTE ANYWHERE.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)