Country Snapshot: Turkey

Marc Jarrett
Often referred to as the country where the East meets the West, Turkey recently bitterly marked 50 years since its first application to integrate formally with Europe, a date overshadowed by its troubled EU accession talks.

Turkey is home to 75.7 million people, 35 percent of whom have access to the fixed-line Internet at this time. On the other hand, 62.33 million Turks, or 83.92 percent of the population, subscribes to cell phones — so expect a disproportionate amount of visitors from there via the mobile Internet and not from its fixed-line cousin.

Although most medium-sized and large companies have websites, they are used mainly for promotion rather than commercial transactions. An exception is banking, where the main incentive is lower costs rather than increased sales.

Credit-card penetration there boomed to 44 million as of November of last year — up from 34 million in 2007. Meanwhile, there are about 59 million debit cards in circulation — a rate unchanged since back then.

However, the credit-crunch has hit Turkey particularly hard — combined credit-card debt has grown to $2 billion as of April this year, and non-performing credit-card loans have ballooned to $1.6 billion.

To tackle the debt problem, government officials announced in June new regulations would that would rein in "annual fees on credit cards, minimum payments and credit card debt" would be introduced.

In the meantime, we have noticed a significant increase in sales from this market, most likely due to the extraordinary popularity of cell phones there. Since Turkey does not have a local pay-per-call infrastructure, surfers are invited to make a regular international call instead. We have revenue-sharing agreements with telecommunication carriers in the country to which the call is sent.

If you decide to target the Turkish speaking market, do so in their native language of Turkish, and bear in mind that a further 1.7 million of them live in Europe's largest market, Germany, thus making them the largest ethnic minority based there.

Turkey, a secular state with a Muslim majority, was the first country to produce pornographic materials in the Muslim world. After a long period of producing Italian-inspired softcore comedies in the 1970s, in the late 1990s, Turkish pornography experienced a minor renaissance, producing cheap, low-quality material. Modern producers of Turkish porn (e.g. Trimax) are based in Germany, though they still recruit their performers from Turkey. The most famous Turkish porn star is probably Sahin K.