The Chinese e-commerce Web site Alibaba (阿里巴巴) has been ordered to remove listings of protective cases for Apple Inc’s second-generation iPad, which are being sold even before the US company has launched the new device.
Alibaba spokesman John Spelich said yesterday the company had been asked to remove the listings, which showed brightly colored silicon cases with a small hole in the back — suggesting that the next model will have a camera — on sale for less than US$3 each.
“Shortly after we were made aware, through blog reports, of the presence of these listings, we received a legitimate take-down request and we have been doing so since last week,” Spelich said, without naming the complainant.
A search for iPad2 cases found seven listings on Alibaba — a trading platform for small businesses — mostly from suppliers based in southern China who were accepting orders for a minimum of 200 to 500 units.
Apple’s iPad touchscreen tablet computer allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the Web and read electronic books, but the next model is also expected to feature a camera and USB port.
The company is predicted to launch iPad2 this year after selling more than 8 million of the original devices from April — when it went on sale in the US — and the end of September, Apple’s last reporting period.
In China — the world’s biggest Internet market, with 450 million users, according to the last official count, and the major producer of Apple products — hundreds lined up for the first official iPads when they were launched in September.
Some observers had expected Apple to unveil iPad2 at the US International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which starts tomorrow.
However, the California-based company is shunning the massive electronics trade show, which attracts tens of thousands of buyers and sellers from around the world to Las Vegas.
“Right now, in the consumer electronics space, Apple is the shining star that everyone and their brother are chasing,” Silicon Valley technology analyst Rob Enderle said.
Goldman Sachs predicts iPad sales could top 37.2 million units this year and technology research firm Gartner forecasts total tablet computer sales of 55 million units this year.
Apple is notoriously secretive about new products, but it’s security system has been breached in the past.
A prototype of Apple’s 4th-generation iPhone turned up in Vietnam in May, a month before the gadget’s global launch.
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