Apple Talks With Russian Carriers Confirmed

One of the countries missing from the list of ones that would be getting the iPhone later this year was Russia. Steve talked about it the interview with CNBC, saying that, “We just didn’t have a chance to close a deal with Russia. And I think you’ll see agreements happen later this year.” Recent changes in their marketing strategy with AT&T may open the door to making this a possibility.

In the meantime, the grey market for the device in Moscow flourishes. “About 20,000 iPhone handsets are brought into the country in suitcases every month,” Eldar Murtazin, editor of Moscow-based Mobile Research Group said. “The current model, which sells officially in six countries for a marked-up $399, currently sells for about $1,000 in Moscow.”

It is estimated that there are already about 300,000 iPhone users in Russia.

Two of the country’s three largest carriers, Mobile TeleSystems and MegaFon, have admitted to having talks with Apple over distribution of the device, but neither have reached an agreement yet, due to the “disadvantageous conditions” Apple proposes. Among them that the carriers by the devices wholesale from the company. They also wanted to start a revenue sharing plan with them similar to the one Apple had with AT&T, where they pay Apple 1-% on every handset sold and 10% of the revenue from service plans.

However, Apple has discontinued this strategy with AT&T, opening the possibility that they may be willing to sacrifice it.

“VimpelCom is looking at the possibility of holding talks with Apple about a distribution agreement for the iPhones,” Osadchaya said. “This is a very auspicious year for the handset in Russia because we are rolling out 3G technology in 20 cities this summer.”

[via Moscow Times]

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