updated 11:35 am EDT, Sat September 3, 2011
Samsung drops all references to Tab 7.7 at IFA
(Update: confirmed Apple move) Samsung on Saturday suddenly pulled the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and all references to it from the IFA show floor. Along with removing demo units, the company has been hiding some references with curtains and pulling decals that refer to it by name. In a podcast, Netbook News noted that the Android tablets had been replaced with Wave 3 units.
Similarly, Samsung's German main page and IFA microsite also have conspicuous gaps where the Galaxy Tab 7.7 once was.
The withdrawal is very likely due to Apple. Samsung is still under a Tab 10.1 ban until at least September 9 and may have been challenged on the Tab 7.7 given that the new design is very similar to the larger model. The ban specifically affects Samsung Germany and wouldn't have occurred at any other trade show.
Sudden withdrawals at IFA over trade disputes are comparatively common: Sisvel in 2006 had SanDisk's MP3 players pulled from the Berlin show's floor after convincing a regional court that there was enough concern over patent infringement to put a halt to the display. Clone devices have likewise been pulled. Apple has a stronger case than Sisvel did given an existing preliminary injunction.
Officials haven't said whether or not the forced exit will lead to a ban for the Tab 7.7 before it even goes on sale. If the smaller tablet is tied into the original ban, it could lead to Samsung being fined or otherwise penalized for contempt of the ongoing restrictions.
Update: Despite initial claims that it was a "voluntary" move, Samsung has since confirmed that the move was in a response to an Apple injunction request. As of September 2, the day the IFA show floor opened, Samsung is barred from selling the Galaxy Tab 7.7 in Germany until at least the scheduled September 9 hearing. Representative James Chung said Samsung respected the court decision but believed it "severely limits consumer choice."
The company hasn't explained why it thought it could unveil a device very similar to the already banned Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a trade show in one of the few countries where a preliminary ban has taken effect.