Prague, Czech Republic – On Thursday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The Prime Minister, former owner of the conglomerate Agrofert and second richest man in the country, has underscored the strengths of the Czech economy and suggested Apple establish its first retail store in Prague.
Although Apple expanded its online store in the Czech Republic back in 2011, the iconic California-based company currently doesn’t operate a single on-site retail store, instead forcing Czech customers to rely on a network of Apple Premium Resellers and brick-and-mortar shops.
After the meeting, Andrej Babis took to Twitter to post a picture of both of them shaking hands, and described their discussion as incredibly productive in a series of half a dozen tweets. “We solved the economic situation of our country, but also the whole EU”, he wrote. “Tim Cook appreciated the results of our economy. I also introduced him to our new vision, which you already know. Czech Republic: The Country for the Future”.
The Prime Minister also claimed that Apple CEO was “absolutely enthusiastic” about the scope of the Czech Republic’s R&D efforts in the field of artificial intelligence, before saying that Cook immediately agreed to build an Apple Store in Prague.
“Tim Cook responded immediately, and a coordination team was set up to prepare a new Apple Store in Prague”, he tweeted, suggesting the site of the Ministry for Regional Development, a landmark historic building in the heart of Prague, could be used for the construction of the Apple store. His last tweet, however, suggests the deal hasn’t been officially finalized yet: “We will fight for an Apple Store in Prague for our people”.
This sudden announcement raised a few eyebrows. As technology reporter and Apple retail specialist Michael Steeber pointed out, “both Tim Cook and Apple as a whole choose their words carefully. It would be unusual for Cook to hastily agree to such a major project at the drop of a hat”. He added that “as we’ve seen in Stockholm and Melbourne, even the early planning stages for a store can take years of public and private discussions”. Apple fans in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic shouldn’t get too excited yet: “It’s difficult to determine if Cook’s encounter with the Prime Minister has been exaggerated. Since the meeting was private, our only perspective on what was said comes from Babis’s own tweets”.
If true, however, this would be the first time Apple sets foot in Central and Eastern Europe, as Apple stores currently mainly operate in Western European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.K.). As of 2018, Apple operates more than 500 retail stores in 25 different countries around the world.