The Israel iphone saga continues…Steve Jobs responds

June 26, 2008 - 12:39 PM by

Will the iPhone make aliyah to Israel?Well, judging by the amount of comments my last post, bringing the iphone to Israel is something of interest to more people than just me. A comment was left by a Yuval Vizel, founder of the Facebook group “Bring the iPhone to Israel

Dear Mr. Jobs,

On behalf of “The Group for the Promotion of the iPhone’s Release in Israel”, I’d like to to bring your attention to the fact that the absence of Israel from Apple’s list of 70 countries, which are slated to release the new iPhone 3G within the next few months, has caused a great disappointment among the Israeli mobile phone users, and particularly among Apple’s loyal Israeli fans. We believe that Apple is missing a great business opportunity by ignoring the Israeli cellular market.

As written in an article by John H. Christy III, editor of Forbes International Investment Report :

“Israel’s mobile telecom market is fairly well developed, with a penetration rate almost 125%. In other words, there are more than nine million mobile phone accounts for a population of 7.2 million people. Furthermore, spending on telecom services in Israel accounts for 4.4% of gross domestic product. That’s a higher proportion than even the US and Europe.” (From “A Clear Connection to Israel”, published in, June 2nd, 2008)

In addition, we’d like to bring your attention to the great demand for iPhones in Israel and to the active community which has evolved to support the Israeli iPhone users. There are well over 10,000 “unlocked” iPhone units in Israel and many Israeli fans have already created web sites and online groups in order to share information about the device, help fellow users and localize it. As written in a recently published CNN article: “Unlocked and pricey, iPhone is coveted in Israel”.

Therefore, we would highly appreciate your effort to release the iPhone in Israel as soon as possible. We are enthusiastically looking forward for the official release of this great device in our country!

The response from Apple headquarters? Actually, from Steve Jobs himself?

“The iPhone currently does not support right to left text. Don’t you think this will severely limit its success in Israel?”

Click here for a screenshot of the email.

Too bad Jobs doesn’t have his facts straight. Several of the countries where the new iPhone will be available are Arabic speaking nations. Including Qatar as well as our neighbors Jordan and Egypt. Last I checked their language is read right from left too.

Israelis are obsessed with their cellphones and gadgets, it would be a natural place to market the iPhone (allegedly there are already over 10,000 iPhone users in Israel) and frankly quite odd that we are being overlooked here…perhaps the other cellphone companies are flexing their collective muscles? I can’t think of any other reason. What are your thoughts? Why was Israel overlooked? Has Israel’s Apple distributor idigital made any statement about this?


12 Comments on The Israel iphone saga continues…Steve Jobs responds

  1. Ziv on Thu, Jun 26th 2008 5:26 PM
  2. This is such a dry and “stop-bothering-me” sort of an answer. If it doesn’t stop right-to-left writing, then fix it. It may have been a great deal in the 90′s, but today it’s a piece of technological cake.

  3. karin on Thu, Jun 26th 2008 5:39 PM
  4. It is probably not in Apple’s hands, but with the operators here in Israel. If Apple came to town it could put Cellcom or others out of business. You could say, oh well, too bad open up the market. But it doesn’t work like that. Cell companies invest in infrastructure and expect a certain amount of guaranteed business to make their investments worthwhile. I don’t think you can buy iPhone in Canada either, but maybe something’s changed last I checked. Canada is also a fairly small and limited market.
    – Karin

  5. Darnell Clayton on Sun, Jun 29th 2008 8:57 PM
  6. I have an iPhone, and from what I can tell Apple makes carriers literally “jump through hoops” in order to make this available to the masses (as they demanded shared revenue with AT&T, and others).

    In fact, having a large market doesn’t mean much to Apple, as they are currently ignoring China but launching in Japan (both have large markets, but Japan agreed to Apple’s terms which are usually NDA’s).


  7. Yuval on Sat, Jul 12th 2008 12:52 AM
  8. Hi, thanks for mentioning our group! Just to fix a minor mistake: I’m not the founder of the group, I’m one of the admins.

    As for the Arab countries, they are probably not going to release the iPhone with Arabic as it is not mentioned in Apple’s website as one of the supported languages and I guess it’ll have a negative effect on its sales there.

  9. Roman from Australia on Thu, Jul 31st 2008 11:06 PM
  10. After visiting Israel and noticing that the new iPhone will not be available in Israel, despite 70 other countries being included has raised some alarm bells. Israel’s cellular network is 100% compatible with the new iPhone and should Apple want to, I am sure that they could find a way to include Hebrew in the iPhone (not to mention Israel is the inventor of the Mobile(Cell) phone).
    So then why is there no Apple presence in Israel? Why is the iPhone not available in Israel? As is shown by the above post it would definately be a money maker for Apple and considering the fact that the first generation iPhone has already being hacked, I am sure it would not take long for someone to allow Hebrew to be used on it.
    As for the response from Steve Jobs – it seems very short and unprofessional for a CEO of a major worldwide cooperation.
    Looking at the above I think it is quiet obvious that the decision not to include Israel on Apple’s shipping list was intentional.
    The question now is why does Apple hate Israel so much?

    [...] No, we still don’t have the beloved iphone, but we are getting our own Apple Store, albeit not a real Apple Store. [...]

  11. Greek from Canada on Fri, Dec 26th 2008 4:27 PM
  12. Roman writes “Why does Apple hate Israel so much?”

    Well, any good Israeli could probably construct a conspiracy theory from the fact that Jobs’ birth father is Syrian.

  13. Natanel Niazoff on Wed, Jun 10th 2009 1:46 AM
  14. With the new iPhone 3.0 Apple will include Hebrew. So if you can please reply to Steve Jobs I would appreciate it.
    Thank You

  15. Micha on Mon, Nov 9th 2009 10:31 PM
  16. 2 things.
    A) Apple has announced that the iPhone is, indeed, coming, beginning of december.
    B) Yes, they support Hebrew as of 3.0.

  17. Robert on Mon, Nov 30th 2009 6:03 PM
  18. I’m sure Israel will get the iPhone its just a matter of time. Apple won’t be putting any of the providers who set up the infrastructure “out of business” either as they don’t set up a competing network.
    Also, I’m sure the right to left problem is of greater concern with Israeli’s as being a tech obsessed society would make them more critical of flawed or missing features.

    Also, I doubt Steve Job’s birth parents have anything to do with decisions regarding Iphone distribution. Steve was adopted at birth and an American. That means that culturally he has nothing in common with his birth parents home country. Besides, how many Israeli’s can trace their roots to Syria or other muslim majority countries?

    Israel will get the iPhone but with a relatively small population and the need to negotiate a special contract with an israeli provider it could take a while. Even after apple finds a provider they would then need to do a complete translation of the phone including the right to left support. Remember Santa Clara County in california (where Apple is located) has a population of 1,682,585. Thats 25% of Israel’s population by its self. On the other coast of the United states the New York metropolitan area has a population of 22 million people. I think facts like these will govern corporate decisions more than a CEO’s heritage. FYI

    [...] According to some reports, there are already 10,000 iPhone users in Israel, who bought their phones abroad. The deliberations in Apple about marketing the phone here were covered nicely earlier this year in a post by Harry. [...]

  19. Gutilin on Thu, Jan 7th 2010 2:11 PM
  20. I discovered today that my anti-theft app called THIEF BUSTER is hitting the top 50 paid apps in Israel. Thank you guys!. Enjoy!

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