Monday, July 16, 2012

Sanctions prove no issue as Iranian retailers do brisk business in Apple products

Is it possible to find a country in the world where Apple gear isn't highly desired? Apparently not, as even in Iran, where you might assume such materialism would be frowned upon and where U.S. computer products are banned under an embargo that has been around for years, Apple products sell briskly (and that's putting it mildly).

Majid Tavassoli, the owner of RadanMac, which is based in Tehran, said, "Business has been booming for the last three years." RadanMac is one of an estimated 100 stores in the Iranian capital that openly sell Apple products, many times at only slightly more than prices in the U.S.

Although U.S. consumer products and computer equipment are banned, enterprising Iranian merchants have been able to source them via underground trade routes. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.

Digital sales of music, apps and other media via iTunes and the App Store are sourced directly from Apple, but getting around the sanctions are no problem for Iranian consumers. Iranians simply register iTunes accounts with randomly-selected addresses from outside the country, and pay for purchases using foreign gift-cards.

One of RadanMac's smaller competitors, Apple Iran, has even gone so far as to create a website so similar to Apple's own, it's nearly indistinguishable, apart from using Farsi and an added disclaimer: "This website is not in any way affiliated with Apple Inc."

Despite tightening sanctions that force retailers to use Dubai or Turkey as a middle destination for shipments sourced directly from the Far East, Iranian prices are often competitive when compared with authorized Apple dealers outside Iran.

Apple dealers in Iran even manage to "upgrade" their hardware to Apple's newest models within weeks of their release elsewhere.

Apple's sales policies say that the company's products "are subject to U.S. and foreign export control laws and regulations and must be purchased, sold, exported, re-exported, transferred, and used in compliance with such export laws and regulations."

With the popularity of Apple products, and Iranians' love for the latest technology, though, demand is so high that despite all the necessary complexities, Iranian retailers such as Apple Iran and RadanMac have no end of customers.

As always, if there is enough money in it, companies will always find a way around these sorts of issues.

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