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Almost one year after the U.S. began to loosen sanctions on exports to Iran, Apple is reportedly in early stage talks with distributors to start official sales of its products in the country.
According to people familiar with the matter, senior Apple executives are courting prospective Iranian distributors at the company's headquarters in London, paving the way for an official reseller network in the Middle East country, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Apple's entry into Iran is contingent on future diplomatic relations, but the company is making preparations in case sanctions lift, sources said. The report notes other Western businesses are doing the same, but many of those interested in getting in early are based out of Europe, not America.
As for Apple, sources expected the company to rely on so-called "premium resellers" in its Iranian operations, not flagship Apple Stores. The business model would take after franchise-style outlets that deal only in Apple products, a strategy used in certain areas of Europe and Asia.
A move into Iran would not be unprecedented, at least in the smartphone sector, as a number of big-name Asian corporations are already selling their wares and have become well entrenched in the region.
In August of 2013, Apple announced it would begin selling products to customers who planned to take the devices into Iran. At the time, the U.S. government had just lifted an export ban imposed as a result of economic sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program. The Obama administration reportedly eased restrictions of high-tech electronics as they could help citizen protestors disrupt the Iranian regime.
Like many countries, Iran has an appetite for Apple devices. A report in 2013 noted business was booming for banned Apple products, with devices being funneled in through underground trade routes for massive profits.