FCC 'Obamacare' shutdown may delay Apple's new iPads

Apple [AAPL] may be forced to delay new iPads in consequence of the US government shutdown, which has caused the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to cease new product approvals.

[ABOVE: A video purporting to show the new iPad casing -- but is it FCC approved yet?]

US closure hits home

In response to Republican attempts to prevent President Obama's delivery of better healthcare for Americans, the FCC has been forced to send non-essential employees home, and will cease certain of its activities.

"Equipment authorizations, including those bringing new electronic devices to American consumers, cannot be provided," the FCC informed us last month.

Apple's new iPhones have already achieved FCC approval, but it is unlikely (though not impossible) its iPads have secured this -- Apple typically leaves such things to the eleventh hour, partly because it knows such approvals are in the public eye -- though there's a chance management had the chance to plan ahead for this.

Product authorizations aren't the only incredibly important FCC task that's grinding to a halt just before the critical Christmas shopping season. Network service approvals, consumer complaints, all kinds of different tasks are being mothballed as thousands of government employees are forced to take time out with no pay.

The impact doesn't stop there, of course: those thousands of unpaid employees will mean less people spending cash in the shops, and fewer product sales in the Christmas market.

What's the signal?

Apple's Macs are less likely to be impacted by the FCC closure, though their support of AirPort wireless networking may be a stumbling block. It's a long time ago, but until 1998 Apple self-certificated new Macs, but this process only applied:

"To unintentional radiating devices, not devices that intentionally transmit signals, such as Apple's wireless products."

Those products that do transmit signals will be impacted by the close down, as the FCC is not in position to approve any new products -- this includes products from companies other than Apple, of course. No one will be able to ship new products until they secure FCC clearance.

It is possible the political posturing over better US healthcare will end in some kind of détente in the next few days. If it does, then the FCC should be able to quickly catch up with any backlog in new product approvals. However, should the situation continue, then Apple and its competitors will face serious problems. All those new connected devices these big corporations have been working on will see introduction delayed pending FCC approval, and the longer the shut down continues, the longer the wait will be as the backlog grows.

Now, I'm not a US citizen and I already enjoy free healthcare under the remains of the UK NHS system, as my parents and grandparents also did. This means I'm not in any position to comment on the fissure within the US government. I do still feel I'm permitted to point out that with the iPad being the number one electronic Christmas gift of 2012, the actual financial impact of the US shutdown on the ability of technology and consumer electronic firms such as Apple to ship new products this season could be significant.

This could be especially significant for Apple as it strides through the critical Fall season it seems to have been planning for across recent months. This seems potentially very damaging to the company's business.

Google+? If you're one of those who likes to use social media and also happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon