updated 12:55 pm EDT, Fri March 28, 2008
Representatives from Apple recently visited Brazil in attempts to gauge the feasibility of an iPhone introduction in the country, reports indicate. A number of hurdles to introduction exist, including a high smuggling rate (90% of iPods sold in the country are imported illegally), steep taxes and more. Portal Exame reports that in December, Apple sent its senior-manager of governmental affairs for Latin America, Susan Cronin, directly to Brasilia. According to sources, Apple plans to introduce the iPhone in Brazil and, given high-enough demand, start manufacturing devices there at a later date.
Cellular carrier Vivo, part of the Telefonica group, is widely regarded as the prime candidate for hosting the iPhone in Brazil.
Brazil is the sixth largest country-market in the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Portal Exame points out that Ireland and Austria -- two countries where the iPhone recently launched -- comprise a potential market of about 12 million buyers: one-tenth of Brazil's potential market. However, the size of the smartphone market in Brazil may be significantly smaller. In 2007, only 2.2 million such devices were sold there.
Meanwhile, the iPhone could be headed to Mexico as soon as June, a Mexican newspaper reports. The paper cites a source within Apple, who says that the company is in talks with Telcel, Mexico's largest cellular carrier.