Sci & Tech

No Apple Watches in Tehran

No Apple Watches in Tehran
No Apple Watches in Tehran

The Apple Watch has been on sale internationally for over a week across multiple territories in Europe and Asia; however, the Apple product hasn't found its way to the Islamic Republic, yet. It has come as a surprise to Iran's avid tech fans that the hotly anticipated watch isn't anywhere to be seen either in country's flagship electronics stores or on websites like DigiKala or Bamilo.

Iran's third party distributors are usually quick off the mark when releasing their newest items.  Items like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Apple Iphone 6 were all on small distributors' shelves within two weeks of their official US release.

  Cause of Delay

It's likely that demand around the world is keeping the assembly plants in China fairly busy, and stocks will be running low. Shipments to the Middle East region will be heading to the United Arab Emirates first and then to other countries. Iran still imports many of its items through ports on the other side of the Persian Gulf so if demand is high in those markets, delays are inevitable.

Import issues not only relate to issues like lack of stock in Dubai, but are also hampered by no official supplier in Iran. This problem, even after sanctions were removed on electrical items in summer 2014, continues to slow down the supply of Apple products in Iran.

Last summer 9-to-5 Mac reported that a company in Tehran had been officially permitted by the Curpetino company to sell its products in the Iranian market. The news reported by Fars news agency at the time misunderstood a clause in the article. It said that rather than Apple Corp. granting a local third party company the right to sell, it was in fact the ministry of industry mine and trade who granted one local company, Vaghaye Gostar Fars, a license.  

Another factor is that the local electronics market has not reached saturation point in regards to smartphones, and this, in turn, will have a knock on effect on the distributors when considering their main sales products.

While observing sales trends around Tehran one thing that does become obvious, is that in the capital at least, smartwatches are still not popular. This fact is exemplified by lack of variety of smartwatches available and interest by the consumer in general. On observation there was one brand being sold in many shops, Kronoz, unknown to everyone, is at a price point more amenable to Iranian shoppers, it also claims on its website it was designed in Switzerland. The Moto360 Smartwatch produced by Motorola is available in a physical store; however, the box looked liked it had been open a number of times before going in the display cabinet.

Online the situation is better, Bamilo DigiKala and Alldigitall have a wider selection of smartwatches for sale, but many of them seem to be going out of stock quickly. This would probably mean they are currently testing the local market with limited imports. Out of the big three, (supposedly owned by Germany's Rocket Internet) wins out due to their variety of watches available, with coming a close second.

Where does this leave us with the Apple Watch, as one distributor said, "Soon Inshallah (hopefully)."