Judge Approves Settlement for Apple to Send $40 to Some iPad 3G Customers

Apple in CourtUS District Judge Ronald Whyte signed off this week on a settlement in a class action suit against Apple and AT&T. The suit accused the two companies of a bait-and-switch scheme when it launched the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G and unlimited data plans through AT&T, only to cancel the program a few months later.

In the terms of the settlement, according to GigaOM, Apple will send US$40 to customers who purchased affected iPads before June 7th, 2010. Customers who didn't sign up with AT&T when they bought their devices will also get a $20/month discount on Ma Bell's 5GB monthly plan for up to a year.

Those who did sign up with AT&T are precluded from the discount because AT&T includes a no-class-action provision in its customer agreement.

The heart of the suit's argument is that customers were willing to buy the original iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G because of the unlimited data plans. Furthermore, they were willing to pay more for them, but AT&T pooped on that value by canceling the plans when it turned out that customers were actually going to use that bandwidth.

It's hard to argue with that reasoning, and it's no surprise to me that Apple and AT&T were willing to settle. As an Apple shareholder, however, it's too bad that AT&T's decision dragged Apple into the fray, but that's the way this business works.