With the hopes of strangling (or at least giving a noogie to) Iran's dastardly nuke program, the US bans many exports to the country. Included in that ban? High tech goodies from Apple. Too bad: Iran is still buying Macs.
Reuters reports that the trade ban hasn't stopped thousands upon thousands of Apple computers, iPhones, and iPads from pouring into the country. And even though it's technically a black market business, the stuff is sold in Tehran like you'd buy it at any mall around the US:
"Business has been booming for the last three years," said Majid Tavassoli, the store's owner, in a phone interview. He said his company employs more than 20 staffers and has been supplying Apple products to Iranian buyers since 1995. The company also has a servicing unit and a business sales arm whose clients have included the Central Bank of Iran, state television channels, newspapers and design professionals.
Prices are barely above what you'd pay in the US; they come with a full year warranty, and the staff consists of knowledgable fanboys like any real Apple Store. And that's just one shop in the Axis of Evil's Terror Capital. Plenty of competitors move Apple units across the country, including one with a website ripped directly from Apple itself—Reuters says "Apple has been attempting to shut it down, according to a person familiar with the matter." Looks up to me.
It's understandable that the US wouldn't want an American company making the jobs of Iran's central bank and state propaganda factory any easier, but this small note from the Reuters report stands out: "[one large Iranian Apple supplier] relies on a steady stream of creative individuals -- including musicians, film editors and photographers -- to keep its business going." There's no doubt that easy access to haute technology feeds (or at least foments) a healthy, colourful democracy, as opposed to a nuke-shouting theocracy run by a Israel-denying loon. If the popular tide in Iran is ever going to permanently turn against the regime America hates so much, it'll probably owe much to the existence of artistic liberals—the same ones who can't legally purchase their computers of choice. Does an export ban like this hurt a questionable nuclear program enough to justify hurting creative geeks who might prefer editing films on an iMac to listening to the Ayatollah? [Reuters]