Apple is to open their first brick and mortar Apple Store in Turkey confirms an Israeli publisher. Smartphones, tablets and other mobile web-enabled devices are widespread in Turkey. Wireless carriers like Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea offer extensive connectivity throughout the country. The most recent government data from April 2012 show only 47.2% of the population have access to the Internet at home, although in Istanbul nearly two-thirds of households have Internet. Nonetheless, mobile phones are everywhere in Turkey, with more than 65 million of them in 2011. Apple has kept its plan for its Istanbul store mostly under wraps. The store is expected to open in the next few months.
After a White House reception with President Barack Obama last week, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Silicon Valley where he visited Apple headquarters, Google and Microsoft.
The visit dovetailed nicely with his seeking the companies' investment in Turkey's ambitious FAITH program for schoolchildren, a multi-billion dollar government initiative to equip Turkish students with tablet computers. The four-year project also aims to equip 620,000 classrooms with "smartboards."
"We wanted to see the latest developments in the information sector before we launched the FAITH bid by visiting Silicon Valley," Erdogan said, according to the semi-official Anatolia News Agency. "Our first aim is to produce 10.6 million tablets within the FAITH project." Decisions on bids are expected next week, according to Erdogan.
Earlier this year, Turkish President Abdullah Gul also met with Apple Vice President John Couch in Istanbul to talk technology partnerships. The meeting followed a trip by Gul to Apple headquarters last year.
An increased Apple presence in Turkey was already seen last December when the company opened its online iTunes store there for music and movies. Once it opens its Istanbul store in the fall, profits should be ripe for the picking.
"We're going to place our first store in Turkey this year; we're super excited about that," Apple CEO Tim Cook told a San Francisco conference earlier this year about the store, to be part of a mall still under construction.