July 13, 2012

Iran Loves Apple

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Late last month, an unfortunate situation occurred between an Iranian student, and Apple employee and an iPad. When a 19-year old Iranian girl went to an Apple store with her Iranian uncle to purchase an iPad, the store employee overheard the two speaking Farsi to one another and told them he couldn´t sell them an iPad. The U.S. and Iran don´t have the best relations and as such, an embargo exists restricting the exportation of goods to Iran. Apple abides by this embargo, and their official policy states, “The exportation, reexportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a U.S. person wherever located, of any Apple goods, software, technology (including technical data), or services to any of these countries is strictly prohibited without prior authorization by the U.S. Government. This prohibition also applies to any Apple owned subsidiary or any subsidiary employee worldwide.” This means any Apple product cannot be sold to Iran without prior authorization by the US Government.

Yet, as is often the case with Apple products in other countries, demand remains strong in Iran.

“Business has been booming for the last three years,” said Majid Tavassoli, owner of, a website which sells the latest Apple gear, from iPads to Mac Pros. Based in Tehran, RadanMac is just one of an estimated 100 stores in the capital which openly sell Apple products at nearly the same price as the official Apple store.

Speaking to Reuters, Tavassoli said his company employs more than 20 people and has been serving up hot pieces of Apple goodness since before the great Jobs takeover in 97. RadanMac does more than just sell iPhones to hungry Iranians, they also service hurting Macs and operate a business sales branch, which lists the Central Bank of Iran as well as state newspapers and television channels as their customers. RadanMac has been able to run a profitable business for nearly 20 years, all while under an embargo.

Tavassoli says the going hasn´t always been easy, but a love for the work keeps him going. And the Iranian people have been keeping him busy as they are always looking for the latest and greatest in technology. To fill his orders, Tavassoli says he deals directly with distributors in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. Now, thanks to tightening embargoes, Tavassoli says direct shipments can become difficult, especially if these shipments are large. As an alternative, he can route the shipments through Dubai or Turkey, but doing this means extra duty and shipping fees, not to mention the Iranian customs fee: 4% for portable products and up to a staggering 60% for larger products, like Mac Pros and monitors. Though the prices change every day –thanks to Iran´s fluctuating dollar rate– the prices remain fairly competitive with the U.S. An entry level MacBook Pro costs around $1250 in Tehran, just $50 more than the same computer sold in New York. When new models roll out, some travelers will try to make a quick buck, buying them overseas and selling them again at a much higher price.

The youth of Iran have also been clamoring for new devices, despite the fact the iTunes store doesn´t work in Iran. Using a system of VPNs and gift cards from other countries, many youth have found a way to get past Apple´s embargoes and into the good stuff.

Though Tavassoli has celebrated his fair share of success, he told Reuters that having to work outside of the good graces of the company he´s devoted his life to is more than frustrating.

“Over the years I´ve personally installed more than 4,000 Macs here,” he said. “Apple would be so damn proud of me and yet it doesn´t even know me. That hurts, that really hurts.”