Apple iPadIt has amusingly been heralded by some commentators as the most eagerly awaited tablet since Moses disappeared up Mount Sinai. Following months of intense speculation, Apple’s Steve Jobs finally unveiled their latest creation, the iPad, at an event in San Francisco a fortnight ago, describing it as a ‘third category’ device somewhere between a smart phone and a laptop. Boasting a 9.7” LED backlit IPS display and ‘remarkably precise’ multi touch screen, this new generation gizmo weighs just over half a kilo and is an incredible 1.25 cm’s thick – it has the appearance of an oversized iPhone, but it promises to be something of a revelation. The Wi Fi version will be available for shipping in the U.S. late march, whilst the 3G model is expected to be released sometime in April. With prices ranging from US$ 499 for the WiFi model with 16Gb of flash memory to US$ 829 for 64Gb of storage and ability to connect via a 3G mobile signal on any network, they’re likely to sell like hot cakes. It has been mooted that international price information won’t be available until either June or July, so, if like me, you want one as soon as they become available in the US, you’re going to want to know how much import tax you’ll have to pay, right ? My aim this week was to nail down where the iPad is classified within the Customs tariff so I could reveal how much duty it would attract, and add it to our product categories section in readiness for the release date. Alas, no luck as yet, in fact it has proved to be a rather frustrating experience. Unfortunately, the Customs Tariff was written back in the 1950’s, in the days when an inside toilet was considered the height of luxury, and little has been done to bring it into the 21st Century. If only it had been written by Nostradamus, I mused this week, he would have had the foresight to include products at the cutting edge of technology. We have some great contacts within the Customs tariff classification section in Southend, but when technologically innovative items come onto the market, there’s always plenty of head scratching in that corner of Essex. All this has been compounded by the fact that their ‘tech’ specialist is currently on holiday, so there’ll be a short delay before we can announce the duty rate that will apply. The one thing I can confirm at this stage is that UK import VAT will apply at 17.5%. In the meantime, after much deliberation, I’ve narrowed it down to two possible classifications for the iPad, and all hinges on whether the it can be considered ‘freely programmable’; if we can tick this box and convince the doting father at Customs, everyone’s a winner (except perhaps Her Majesty); classification will fall to the heading for laptop computers – duty free. If all else fails, the worst case scenario is a duty rate of a mere 3.7% – hardly a show stopper for one of the most talked about devices on the net. Watch this space, will get back to you with the final rate next week Happy Bundling
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