The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been touring Silicon Valley companies
this week, on the heels of a similar tour by Turkish President Abdullah Gul
last month. Both men received VIP tours of facilities at Microsoft and Google, and met privately with officials from Apple. All three companies are hoping to land a contract to supply the country with at least 10.6 million tablets
for the country's students.
Erdoğan's first stop was a visit to Microsoft, where he was greeted by CEO Steve Ballmer. He also received briefings on the Google Glass project and test-"drove" Google's driverless cars along with his daughter when he visited the Android maker's HQ. The meeting at Apple was not accompanied by any publicity stunts.
The Prime Minster, like the President before him, was visiting technology companies as part of a proposal by the government of Turkey to lure the tech companies to build some 10.6 million tablets for the students of the country. The project, known as Fatih, would ultimately produce over 13 million tablets under the contract terms.
The government of Turkey and the US technology companies have been discussing details of the proposal for two years
, with Turkey requiring that the winning bidder build and maintain at least seven "service centers" throughout the country, and is expected to favor companies that are willing to invest technology resources -- such as assembly centers, research labs and other such investments -- in the country. In addition to the US giants, two Turkish tablet makers are also in the running for the tender on the contract, which could be worth more than $5 billion.
Turkey intends to use the tablets to replace textbooks and blackboards and fully embrace 21st-century educational techniques. The tender is said to be scheduled for May 27. A Chinese company will also submit a bid, but its proposal must be translated first.