The week that gadgets went AWOL

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been barred from sale in most of Europe...for the moment

If you're into tablets, smartphones or gaming then this week has been rather like a dream - and we don't mean one of those dreams involving your favourite celebrity, a leprechaun costume and a gallon of massage oil.

One minute all kinds of technological delights were heading for UK shop shelves; the next, they'd vanished into the ether.

U-turns have affected three top gadgets this week: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, the Nokia N9 smartphone and Sony's PS Vita handheld.

The reasons differ from device to device, but they all have one thing in common: you won't be able to get your hands on them for the foreseeable future.

First up, there's the PS Vita. We've drooled over its specs, its unusual control scheme and it's hefty processing power, so we were gutted to discover that it's not going to reach the UK this year.

We're sure Sony's gutted too: the PlayStation Vita's not going to make it to the US before 2012 either, so Sony's missing out on a lot of sales during the lucrative pre-Christmas shopping season. The timing's interesting, because Nintendo has just dramatically cut the price of its 3DS. Could Sony be worried that by comparison, the Vita might look too expensive?

At least we'll get our hands on the PS Vita eventually. We're not so sure about Nokia's N9, the MeeGo-powered flagship phone that we've described as "beautiful", "innovative" and "different".

Nokia concentrates on Windows Phone

Nokia has now released a statement that appears to rule out a UK launch for the foreseeable future. "Although we are very delighted with the very positive reception that the Nokia N9 has received," Nokia says, "here in the UK there are no plans to offer the Nokia N9 at present".

You might think that showing off your flagship phone to the UK media, getting nice reviews and then deciding you can't be bothered selling it after all is a weird business strategy, but Kate Solomon has a theory:

"It's possible that, as key smartphone markets, the US and UK are missing out on the wildcard N9 so as not to sully focus on Nokia's upcoming range of Windows Phone 7 handsets. It seems a shame for us to miss out, though."

Nokia n9

BYE BYE: And we never even properly said hello. Nokia's N9

We're also missing out on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which many people see as the closest rival to Apple's iPad 2.

A court in Germany has granted Apple an injunction that bans sales of the Tab 10.1 across Europe, and the earliest Samsung will be able to get the ban lifted is in four weeks time. The ban is based on allegations of patent infringement, and it's part of an ongoing patent battle between Apple and other smartphone and tablet manufacturers. However, while stocks last it seems the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is still on sale in the UK.

Columnist Gary Marshall smells a rat. "What's interesting isn't the rights and wrongs of the arguments," he writes. "It's that Samsung wasn't warned about the case or given the right to reply. 'Apple says you suck!' the court has effectively said. 'I like them! Bring me the banhammer!'"

The ban couldn't come at a worse time for Samsung, which was just getting its Tab marketing campaign off the ground, and if it loses significant sales then "that's likely to have an effect on the overall profitability of the Tab range".

Marshall continues: "I don't know whether Apple's claims against Samsung have any merit, but I do worry about an intellectual property regime that can ban entire product lines on little more than a rival firm's say-so. That can't be right, can it?" Can it? Do let us know.


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