Apple launched the official Saudi Arabia site at apple.com/sa, Apple also released a “Where to Buy in Saudi Arabia” page apple.com/sa/buy which includes links to Mobily and Arab Business Machine (ABM).
When the iPhone 3G was launched in Saudi Arabia last year the only Saudi page on Apple’s site was the iPhone page apple.com/sa/iphone. The UAE where to buy page apple.com/ae/buy had “Saudi Arabia” in the title before Apple fixed it.
The Saudi iPhone page was finally updated to indicate the release of the iPhone 3GS in Saudi Arabia by Mobily months after the release in November.
This is a step closer to the main goal of the We Want Apple Saudi Arabia campaign: official Apple presence in the country.
Arabic version of this post on SaudiMac Arabic Edition.
The following is a draft I wrote in February, decided I will include it in this post since Apple finally opened the official Saudi Arabia page.
Who represents Saudi Arabia at Apple?
A few months ago I was browsing the Apple website and something caught my eyes: Apple added a new buy page for almost every country with an iPhone. The UAE website was (apple.com/ae/buy), with the title “Apple (Saudi Arabia) – Where to buy” and under “Where to buy iPhone” it had the Mobily logo! ABM (Arab Business Machine) was listed as the Mac/iPod seller.
Later on the iPhone sellers were changed to Etisalat and Du however the title still mentioned Saudi Arabia instead of United Arab Emirates. Apple only fixed this recently in 2010. Here’s a screenshot a cache/mirror of that page.
However, the Saudi Arabia version of this page (apple.com/sa/buy) doesn’t even exist. Saudi Arabia is a major market with a lot of Mac Stores yet our own “where to buy” page doesn’t exist on Apple.com. The page is available for Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and many others. The rest of the GCC are ignored too: Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
Another thing to note: The Middle East pages provide almost no information compared to India. The Indian Where to Buy page is actually useful. Isn’t it ABM’s responsibility to maintain their “Where to Buy” pages?
Something else I noticed: Apple’s Saudi Arabia iPhone page hasn’t been updated in a very long time. The site claims that the iPhone 3G is available in Saudi Arabia and the iPhone 3GS is coming soon. However the iPhone 3GS was released in November 2009. The Saudi iPhone page hasn’t been updated to reflect this change until now. The UAE iPhone page was immediately updated to introduce the iPhone 3GS. Same with Qatar, their iPhone page was immediately updated after the iPhone 3GS release in the country.
Etisalat took the credit for releasing the iPhone 3G in Saudi Arabia last year but they didn’t with the iPhone 3GS.
This raises the following questions: Why didn’t Apple update the Saudi iPhone page? Why didn’t Mobily ask Apple to update the iPhone page?
The only answer I found is that Apple only made a deal with Etisalat and as far as Apple is concerned the iPhone 3GS hasn’t been released in Saudi Arabia.
This explains why the Saudi iPhone page hasn’t been updated. It also explains the limited stock of the iPhone 3GS: the stock is shared between Etisalat and Mobily.
And finally this explains the lack of a “Where to Buy in Saudi Arabia” page on Apple’s website.
End of the February article draft.