Two days ago Apple opened up its App Store to Iranians once again. Apple iPhone always had a great market in Iran. But with the complicated relationship between Iran and U.S., Iranians had to deal with a lot of problems from the start.
The last time that we saw an official statement from Apple regarding its Iranian users was in 2013. Apple announced that it would lift some of the limitations for Iranian users. It was not that long after this decision that Apple banned the Iranian users from accessing the App Store services. This time, Apple didn’t release any official statement regarding this decision. This decision has been in place for two days that apple opened up its App Store services to Iranian users again. This change of strategy happened while Apple hasn’t been releasing any official statement regarding this new decision.
Before Apple opening up its App Store services to Iranians, anyone who wanted to use App Store inside the country was facing many issues. The first and foremost issue was “Error 1009” which wouldn’t allow users to download or update their apps. The question is how 6M iPhone users in Iran were bypassing that restriction? The answer is easy, by using VPNs and faking their IPs. This is the method that most Iranian users are familiar with since they have to bypass Iran’s censorship and access restrictions from U.S. based companies. What’s happening here is that only users are getting crushed in between since they just want to use the normal and day-to-day services that everyone around the world has an easy access to.
But why Apple is struggling so much with this decision? Two weeks ago we published an estimation of the iPhone market in Iran which was around one billion dollars. Currently, 1.2M new iPhones are smuggled in the country each year. Furthermore, there is a speculation that this number is even bigger and close to 2M iPhones each year. This number could increase Apple’s stock value up to one percent according to experts. This number is not something that apple could easily ignore. And the reality is that it’s not only Apple, Google also has been struggling with the Iranian Market in the past few years. Most of Google services and products were also restricted in Iran from Google’s side in the past couple of years. And it was the same story, they opened up some of their services, and in time they closed it down for Iranians again. But Google opened up its Google Play and recently Google Webmasters and Google Traffic. This shows a sign that American companies are really eager to engage with Iran’s market but the U.S. sanctions are stopping them to do so.
Apart from these facts, these sanctions are not effective, since Iranians are buying and using these Amercian products and services by their own methods, whether it’s the company middlemen which are smuggling these products to Iran, VPNs, or other technologies that enable Iranians to use these products and services with fake IPs. The point is American companies want to enter Iran’s market one way or another and they will, the only question that remains is when.