The iPhone 4
launched this weekend in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but buyers wound up with a surprise -- their handset's front-facing cameras couldn't do FaceTime
. The National
reports that the video chat feature is missing from phones sold at UAE carriers Etisalat and du, as well as those from Vodafone Qatar. Carriers are blaming Apple for the missing feature, and spokespersons from both Etisalat and Vodafone say they're speaking to Cupertino about reinstating FaceTime post-haste; It was reportedly advertised on Middle Eastern versions of Apple's iPhone website until around September 20th, when all references to FaceTime were removed. TUAW
reports that some UAE denizens have actually tested FaceTime on phones bought abroad and found it working just fine, but that the functionality disappears after installing the local version of the iOS 4.1 update.
RIM's Mike Lazaridis famously warned
that countries threatening to ban the BlackBerry
might thumb their nose at other forms of internet transmission too, but if's far too early to tell if Apple was pressured into removing FaceTime or chose to for another reason entirely. It's worth noting that both the UAE and Egypt (also missing FaceTime website ads) have banned certain VoIP services
in the past.