Why Israel Banned (and then Unbanned) The Apple iPad: Rent-Seeking?

When I first heard of the Israeli Government banning the Apple iPad their excuse for banning the device seemed, at best, to be nonsensical. The excuse they gave was that the iPad used U.S. Wi-Fi power specifications, while Israel used European-like Wi-Fi power specifications, and that they believed this difference could “harm” Israeli Wi-Fi networks. Which, like I said, at best this seems like utter nonsense.

The Israeli Government latter lifted the iPad ban. But even though the ban was lifted, the whole banning seems incredibly suspicious.

Aharon Etengoff points out that…

[I]t is worth noting that Apple’s Israeli distributor, iDigital, is run by Chemi Peres, the hyper-entrepreneurial son of Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Clearly, iDigital wants its lucrative cut of every iPad brought into the country – which it will undoubtedly receive when a modified European version of the iPad is approved for import over the next two or three months.

But in the meantime, iDigital can’t make money off the slow trickle of iPads entering the country via private citizens, tourists and international businessmen.

And if iDigital can’t get its cut, well, then, no iPad for you!

Seems like a possible case of rent-seeking.

H/T Tyler Cowen, J. Bradford DeLong, Philip Elmer-DeWitt

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