Offices of Intel and Elbit Imaging - Zvi Roger - 18122011
Offices of Intel and Elbit Imaging in southern Haifa. Photo by Zvi Roger
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Apple is looking for 2,500 square meters of office space in Haifa to launch a development center in Israel, TheMarker has learned.

This comes after TheMarker reported Wednesday that the international computing giant has chosen Israel for its first development center outside the United States.

Apple has hired real estate companies to find it a site. Based on the standards in the high-tech industry, 2,500 square meters would house about 200 workers.

The move apparently is not dependent on Apple's acquisition of Israeli chipmaker Anobit, as TheMarker reported last week. But the development center is likely to be based on the acquisition, so it's expected to focus on Anobit's expertise - developing flash memory for smartphones, tablet computers and music players.

Apple executives visited Israel last week, including Corporate Vice President R&D Ed Frank, who has extensive experience in chip development.

The delegation stayed a few minutes from the high-tech park in downtown Haifa and apparently met with employees at Intel, which has offices there. Intel declined to confirm this.

Apple execs have visited Israel several times in recent months. Past trips were devoted to examining local chipmakers to find partners or acquisition targets.

Apple's interest in Israel apparently was piqued when it hired Haifa resident Johny Srouji in 2008. Srouji is the company's vice president of VSLI, an aspect of chipmaking.

The company apparently is looking to Israel to help it tackle its growing challenges - its products face tough competition from phones running Google's Andriod operating system, as well as from Motorola, Samsung and the Nokia-Microsoft partnership. It is looking for competitive advantages in fields including hardware, a segment where the Israeli high-tech industry offers significant knowledge.

In particular, the company could benefit from Israeli expertise in flash storage, which could speed up its iPhones and iPads, and in data transfer between devices.

In addition, the large number of local start-ups - some 4,000 - and the expertise they offer is another draw.