Sci & Tech

Apple Interested in Iran Market

Auto & Tech Desk
Apple  Interested  in Iran Market
Apple  Interested  in Iran Market

A top official from Apple Inc., who had visited Iran recently, announced that the company intends to pursue cases of the brand’s illegal use in Iran.

“The official had paid an unofficial visit two months ago to Tehran to study Iran’s mobile phone market,” said Mohammad Reza Talaei, head of a group of information and communications technology companies, local technology news website ICTNA reported.

Talaei did not name the official.  

The Apple brand is one of the most commonly copied brands with hundreds of fake Apple stores operating across the country. Many companies in the past claimed being “the official representative of Apple”, even registering their brands with the Copyright Commission.

However, in more recent reports, Apple has categorically denied any third-party distribution contract with Iranian companies.

According to the head of ICT firms, Iranian officials had conducted negotiations with major technology corporations at the Gitex 2015 event held on October 16-20 at Dubai World Trade Center.

The official said that in a meeting with Iranian officials, Apple’s CEO for the Middle East, Patrick Beyrouti, had said the California-based company is willing to officially operate in Iran and determine its future local partner.

“Several Iranian companies had contacted Apple Middle East requesting legal representation,” he said, stressing that Apple currently has no legal representatives in Iran.

 Troubles in Ownership

Despite the lack of official representation, thousands of Iranians use Apple’s products.

Owners of such products in Iran, however, face many limitations. Firstly, users have problems creating an Apple ID, as they cannot select their own country of residence as the location from which they are applying.

Users regularly pay the more tech-savvy owners of mobile shops to have an Apple ID created for them, which is usually not registered to their own email address, which costs about $15. As the username is not registered with their own details, these users need to keep referring back to the shops to have any update installed for which they are charged an extra amount.

Users who decide to refer to bigger and better known companies selling Apple products in Iran such as Vaghaye Gostar Fars or Mahtel are charged more, but once they buy the product, they receive services for free over the next year.

Users also cannot pick any of the payment methods available on iTunes (MasterCard, Visa and PayPal to name a few). For this reason, they will not be able to purchase paid applications unless they buy Apple gift-cards from retail stores in Iran, which usually cost at least $10.

Some Iranian users, who attempted to purchase gift-cards, have reported that online shops had swindled them out of their money and sold them a fake card that could not be used to download anything from iTunes, for instance.

Due to the restrictions, content developers also find it difficult to upload their apps to iTunes.

To ease things, locals have attempted to create an Iranian version of iTunes known as Sibche (meaning little apple in Farsi). However, the site has reportedly caused problems on devices and many who install the app end up with no way but to restore their phone to factory settings for things to go back to normal.

Apple’s phone swapping schemes are also not an option in Iran.

 Future Prospects

Talaei said if Apple were to officially enter Iran, many of the above-mentioned problems will be solved.

He added that Iranian content developers will be able to use the Apple store and promote “Islamic-Iranian” content on the platform.  He added that a public announcement will be made so that Iranian firms, who are willing to act as Apple’s legal representatives, can be identified, assessed and formally presented, after which Iran will send out an official invitation to Beyrouti.

The official added that IBM had also shown an interest in reinvesting in Iran as had the CEOs of Vodafone. These statements are yet to be confirmed by the companies’ representatives.  IBM’s former office is still recognizable in Tehran’s central business district.  

The domestic ICT firms, affiliated to Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, have announced their readiness to undertake negotiations with the international brands.

Talaei noted that cooperation will not be limited to importing products, as the firms seek transfer of technical knowhow to boost Iran’s ICT sector, which will hopefully reinvigorate the local market.