MTS to go through third-party distributors
Russian carriers MTS and VimpelCom will resume selling the iPhone on October 25th, says Reuters. All three major local carriers -- the continuing holdout being Megafon -- stopped direct sales of the iPhone earlier this year, as they chose not renew their contracts with Apple. The Russian government doesn't allow cellphone subsidies, and given the high cost of the iPhone, that put the device out of reach for many people. Apple, meanwhile, was demanding strict sales volumes and marketing budgets.
Russian buyers forced to turn to other sources
All three major Russian phone carriers have stopped selling the iPhone at their stores, leaving people to buy from Apple directly, Svyaznoy outlets, or else the black/gray market, says Fortune. The last holdout was VimpleCom, whose Beeline brand severed its ties with Apple last week, replacing the iPhone 5 in its lineup with the Samsung Galaxy S4. Beeline blames the switch on "draconian [Apple] contracts" and "harsh conditions...especially in the marketing department." Previously, MTS CEO Andrei Dubovskov stated that "Apple wants operators to pay them huge money subsidizing iPhones and their promotion in Russia" when asked about his own company dropping the hardware.
Russian iTunes Store
At least some Russians could finally have normal access to the iTunes Store in 2009, reports say. While Macs, iPods and now iPhones are on sale in the country, Apple's online media storefront has been conspicuously absent, with the exception of the App Store. Music and/or video could be coming soon through an unusual deal with one of Russia's iPhone carriers, writes RBC Daily.
Russian iPhone on Oct. 3rd
The iPhone should go on sale in Russia October 3rd, Reuters reports. Nadezhda Senyuk, a PR director for Russia's Tekhnosila retail chain, explains that several retailers should begin selling the iPhone overnight between October 2nd and 3rd. Two other retailers, Eldorado and M.video, have confirmed Senyuk's statements by issuing separate announcements of an October 3rd sell date. Eldorado says it expects total iPhone sales in the country to reach 150,000 for 2008, out of which Eldorado hopes to claim 15,000.
MTS iPhones for Russia
Russia's top cellular carrier, Mobile TeleSystems, today announced it has successfully negotiated with Apple and will soon be offering the iPhone, according to the Associated Press. This confirms speculation that Apple would be making deals with all three major Russian carriers, as the company signed deals with Vimpelcom and MegaFon earlier this week.
Megafon gets iPhone
Russia's third-largest telecom firm, Megafon, has announced that it has reached an agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone 3G, making it the second carrier in the country to offer the device. The company has not yet committed to any particular release date, but has announced in a statement that the iPhone will be available "later this year."
VimpelCom Gets iPhone
Russian telecoms firm VimpelCom today said it has struck an agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone 3G, making it the first carrier in the country officially set to offer the device. The telecoms firm follows the practices of earlier carrier announcements and doesn't commit to a particular release date, saying only that it would have the device "later this year."
Russian iPhone deals near?
Apple is nearing an agreement to sell the iPhone in Russia, says Vedomosti. The regional publication cites inside sources, who claim that two out of the three major cellular carriers in Russia -- Megafon and VimpelCom -- are on the verge of signing a deal to distribute the iPhone. The only stumbling block at present is said to be bulk orders, as Apple may want carriers to accept unusually large quantities of the phone all at once -- between 1 to 1.5 million units each, for a total of 3 to 4.5 million for the whole country.