Apple opens first Israeli store

And what about the iPhone? "It will be here sooner than people think."

One product is missing from the flagship store just opened by iDigital Ltd., the Israeli importer of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) products - the third generation iPhone. Accessories for the company's mobile handset, on the other hand, are available. "We're doing all we can to bring the iPhone to Israel, and it will be here sooner than you think," says iDigital CEO Eran Tor. However, he declined to give a date.

The new 300 square meter store in the Ramat Aviv mall in Tel Aviv is exceptional for its design, which is radically different from that of other computer retail chains in Israel. The Apple flagship store in Israel is almost identical in design to the stores spread across the US and Europe, the only difference being in size, since the chain's stores overseas are still much larger than the newly opened Israeli branch. iDigital has also taken the initiative, in view of the criticism leveled at it over prices of Apple products in Israel, which are far higher than those abroad, and has reduced prices on most products by 10% to 33.7%.

Thus, an iMac computer which originally cost NIS 7,699 now sells for NIS 6,199. The price of a MacBook Pro is now down to NIS 10,499 from NIS 11,399. Commenting on the frequent comparison of prices of Apple products in Israel to those in the US, Tor responded, "We don't live in New York. Anyone who wants to buy in New York should go and live there. Our prices depend on Apple."

Tor added that the difference between the price of the iPod Shuffle in Israel and the price at an Apple Store in New York is currently NIS 42. "This is the price of shipping the device to Israel, not including the time and service we provide," he claimed. iDigital also intends to offer a unique 4Gb iPod Nano for the Israeli market for NIS 629, which will be available in five colors - purple, orange, silver, pink, and blue.

iDigital has also launched an extended service package called iCare, a package similar to the Apple Care offering in the US. The package will offer customers an extra one year warranty on the iPod for NIS 179 and an additional two years service for computers for NIS 699.

iDigital plans to open a second store in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center in 2009. Like the flagship store just opened in Ramat Aviv, this too will not be called Apple Store, but iDigital Store. The reason for this, according to Tor is that "we're not Apple, and under Apple policy, any store opened by a local representative carries his brand." As to the plans for future stores Tor added, "We intend to be in every big city. We will be in Haifa, Jerusalem, and we will also expand southward of Tel Aviv to places like Rishon LeZion and Ashdod."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 22, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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