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Apple meets with Turkish government to discuss tablets in education

by Doug Drinkwater

February 1 2013

Turkish president Abdullah Gül (far left) met with Apple VP John Couch (far right)
Turkish president Abdullah Gül (far left) met with Apple VP John Couch (far right)

Apple’s vice president for education John Couch has reportedly been talking with the Turkish government about the country’s aim of bringing tablets to 15 million schoolchildren.

Turkey’s presidential website posted a photo and video of Couch’s meeting with president Abdullah Gül, with MacRumors claiming (via local source Elma Dergisi) that the meeting concerned the country’s $4.5 billion tablet program.

“Apple has reportedly been pushing for the contract, but negotiations are said to still be underway”, said the source, which added that the meeting also tackled the layout of Turkey’s unique F-keyboard on iOS devices.

Another source suggested that the meeting -- which is not the first between Apple and Turkey concerning tablets in education -- wasn’t quite as positive, with government officials apparently criticizing the “second-class” treatment it receives from Apple.

In particular, WorldBulletin.net reports that Gül was unhappy that it takes so long for Apple products to reach the local market, and even asked Apple to open some authorized retail stores in the country to speed up the process.

Couch apparently refused to commit to anything at the time, but did say that he would speak to CEO Tim Cook on the matter in the near future.

Turkey is one the world’s fastest growing economies and has been touting its tablet program for well over two years now.

Having promised to bring tablets to school children since its inauguration in November 2010, the country has been in contact with a whole host of budget Android vendors in the last year and was at one stage in talks with DataWind, maker of India’s $35 Aakash tablet.

Almost a year ago, the first signs of a tablet roll-out in the country were seen with the government partnering with General Mobile and Samsung to deploy 12,000 tablets across 52 schools. That was part of a project which hopes to eventually bring tablets to 40,000 schools.

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