iPhones could be persona non grata in Iran unless Apple takes measures to comply with the country’s anti-smuggling requirements.
The Iranian government has kicked off a new project to ban potentially smuggled mobile phones, The Japan Times said on Tuesday, citing a report from Iran’s Tasnim News Agency. Scheduled to start this week, the plan will require all mobile phones to be registered with the country’s telecommunications user database. Those that fail to register will be banned and unable to be used.
“If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the Tasnim News Agency said, quoting the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office.
Apple has run into trouble in certain countries with iPhones selling on the black market. Smugglers buy iPhones in one country at a cheap price, then sell them at a higher price in another country, thus cutting into Apple’s profit margin.
More than 40 million Iranians own smartphones, many of them iPhones, which are often brought into the country by smugglers, The Japan Times said. Iran’s new policy is designed to clamp down on the number of smuggled mobile phones by banning those not registered with the database.
In 2013, Apple said it would begin selling iPhones in Iran when the US government relaxed sanctions that barred companies from selling electronic devices such as computers, cell phones and wireless routers to the country. The company has yet to register itself as an business entity officially selling the iPhone. A representative from the anti-smuggling office told the Tasnim News Agency that no legal restriction exists against Apple registering itself in Iran.
Some IT activists have condemned the potential plan to ban iPhones, arguing that collecting the huge number of handsets that fail to register would be difficult.
Apple did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.