By Emily Cyr, Summer College Associate
The idea of life without Apple Inc. is one that seems incomprehensible to most Americans. But in Iran, this is largely a reality, and one that may soon end.
With the recent Iran nuclear deal meant to lift the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is talk of Apple expanding into the Iranian market. But this means more than just selling iPhones.
In February of 2014, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets issued General License D-1 for Iran, allowing the exportation of “certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications”. However, this is limited technology meant to provide greater information access to the people of Iran.
One concern expressed by the United States government is the use of Apple technologies for practices that are considered dangerous or unlawful. According to Apple’s Global Trade Compliance: “It is prohibited to allow certain countries to use Apple products in the design, development, production or use of nuclear, missiles, and chemical and biological weapons and technology without proper authorization from the U.S. Government.” The 22 countries exempt from this initiative include 17 European countries along with Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Turkey.
According to a Wall Street Journal 2014 report, Apple would most likely not even be opening stores in Iran with this deal. The company hopes to sell Apple products through distributors, from which they will receive a portion of the profits. Though it seems like a small step into the market, it could bring great gains.
Iran has a population of about 80 million, with 32 million of its residents under the age of 30 and seeking western products. Combined with the new government easing up on internet censorship, and only about 11 million with mobile internet access, this means there is a substantial market in Iran, with room for growth.
However, despite these lucrative prospects, Apple must be cautious for fear of a “snap back” if Iran fails to abide by the rules of the agreement. In fact, it could take nearly a year for Apple and other companies to begin business, since Iran must fully implement the terms of the agreement before western products can permeate Iran.
So for now, Apple may be keeping its interests domestic, after releasing its record $ 1.24 million spent on lobbying for the first quarter of 2015. And Iran will have to settle for Samsung and LG Electronics.