Apps now almost double 2013 prices
Apple is increasing the prices of both apps and in-app purchases at the Russian App Store, according to a new memo issued to developers. An app that would normally be $1 in the US, for example, is now 62 rubles. That indicates that apps have almost doubled in cost in Russia during 2014, though the increase is largely due to recent currency pressures.
Local economy hit by falling oil prices, political concerns
Apple is temporarily shutting down its Russian online store while it reviews pricing, according to company spokesman Alan Hely. The value of the country's currency, the ruble, dropped 19 percent today despite attempts to stall a months-long decline using an interest rate increase. Apple's reaction is unusually sharp, given that the company normally just adjusts prices on the fly in foreign stores if there's a significant currency fluctuation. In November, it hiked the Russian cost of the iPhone 6 by 25 percent.
Data storage law prompts closure of Google engineering office in Russia
A Google engineering office located in Russia is reportedly closing, in the wake of changes to the law concerning user data. According to the Wall Street Journal, the search giant is going to be pulling out just the engineering office, with a large contingent of employees working on sales, business partnerships, user support, marketing, and communications set to remain.
Security concern based on apparently false newspaper article
A member of the center-left Fair Russia party and State Duma lawmaker is proposing a bill that would recommend that all Russian parliament members stop using iPhones and iPads to protect themselves from foreign eavesdropping, based primarily on what appears to be a false report that the Russian military has done the same. The Defense Ministry has since denied the report from the newspaper Izvestia, but the bill has again opened the question of whether foreign-made smartphones and tablets are secure.
Fines not the central means of enforcement -- violators face wide block
Russia's Internet watchdog has sent formal notices to Google, Facebook, and Twitter this week, enforcing early compliance with the country's social media law, requiring services with more than 3,000 readers in a day to register with the overseeing governmental agency and store data within the country. Deputy chief Maxim Ksenzov of Roskomnadzor, the agency in charge of enforcement of the law, has said that the trio will be "forced one way or another to obey the law" despite being international companies.
Countries include Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Italy
The second group of international iPhone 6/6 Plus launches will happen on September 26, checks at Apple's international storefronts indicate. Some countries discovered so far include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Taiwan, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The United Arab Emirates will get the new phones on September 27.
Google says there is no evidence of a breach, many logins are said to be outdated
Another credential scare has turned up online, this time for one of the world's largest free email services. The emails and passwords of around 4.66 million Gmail users have turned up on a Russian Bitcoin forum, traced backed to English, Russian and Spanish users of the service. It's not clear where or how the list was collected, but it is said that many of the logins are outdated.
Nearly 4.5 billion records in total collected, 542 million unique emails addresses
The New York Times reported earlier this week that a hacker group has collected 1.2 billion unique username and password credentials from 420,000 websites. The records, which were verified by a security firm, is thought to be one of the largest collections of Internet identity information reported. The publication had the data analyzed by another expert, who verified the authenticity of the collection but has not commented on the validity of the data.
Companies will likely be hesitant to comply
The Russian government has proposed that two Western companies, Apple and SAP, grant access to their source code so it can determine whether or not products are tools for spying on state organizations and/or the public, Reuters reports. Russia's communications minister, Nikolai Nikiforov, is said to have made the request when he met last week with Apple's local general manager, Peter Nielsen, and SAP's local managing director, Vyacheslav Orekhov. In an official Communications Ministry statement, Nikiforov comments that "Edward Snowden's revelations in 2013 and US intelligence services' public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware."
Samsung Z release postponed pending possible app portfolio issues
Samsung has postponed the release of its first smartphone running the Tizen operating system. The Samsung Z was originally intended to go on sale in Russia in the third quarter of this year, timed to coincide with a Tizen developer event in Moscow, but it has been delayed by the smartphone manufacturer with no exact date for when the company will try the launch again.
Suspects caught withdrawing victims' money from ATM
Russian government officials say they have arrested two people accused of hijacking Apple devices in Australia and demanding ransom money. The scheme was reportedly lead by a 23-year-old man identified only as Ivan; an unnamed 17-year-old is said to have been his accomplice. Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs states that both are from Moscow, and were arrested during "operational activities" conducted by the Interior Ministry. One of them has already been tried in the past.
Demands placement of GLONASS ground stations on US soil
Russia is threatening to shut down American-run GPS stations in the country, in retaliation to the refusal by the United States to allow similar sites to operate in its territory for the competing GLONASS system. The threat comes at the same time as another against NASA's use of the International Space Station, in retaliation to US sanctions.
Russian lawmakers now require social media to retain user data for six months
Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared before the press earlier today, and in his pre-prepared remarks, he called the Internet "a CIA project," and slammed the country's largest search engine Yandex. He also noted that the Russia parliament has recently signed into law a requirement for all social media websites operating in Russia to maintain servers in Russia, as well as retain all data about users for at least six months.
Government of Russia swaps iPads for customized, secure Samsung tablets
Russian government officials have opted to stop using iPads in official capacities, possible due to concerns about alleged "backdoors" that allowed for NSA monitoring (which Apple has denied). Instead the government has arranged a deal with Samsung that will see politicos using customized, secured tablets specifically designed to handle confidential information as legislators often need to have available. There was no detail on prices or the cost of dropping the iPads, and the move could be seen as part of an effort to stop supporting American companies, given the US opposition to Russia's policies in the Ukraine and Crimea. Russian officials have denied any such motivation, reports Business Insider.
Agreement with Apple requires $28 million in marketing as well
After not carrying the iPhone for nearly four years because of a dispute about sales guarantees, Russia's second-largest carrier Megafon signed a new deal with Apple late last year to return to selling the popular smartphone. The new deal requires the carrier to buy at least 750,000 iPhones over the course of three years, and spend at least $28 million in marketing the smartphone. While not a high number compared to the US, the figure was called "reasonable" by Russian financial analysts.
Huawei announces TalkBand B1, unlikely to be released in US
Huawei has announced its upcoming wearable tech device, the TalkBand B1. Described as both a fitness band and Bluetooth headset combined, the band has a removable earpiece that accepts calls, and when used in the band tracks physical activities including sleep. Its 90mAh battery can last up to six days powering the flexible OLED display. The TalkBand B1 is not anticipating release in the US, though will be available in Chinese markets next month, and Japan, the Middle East, Russia and Western Europe in the second quarter of 2014.
Very modest 1.57 million units represents major progress
While a hair over a million and a half iPhones sold sounds (and is) pretty bad for a company with the influence and presence of Apple, the 1.57 million units sold in Russia in 2013 represent something of a (small) triumph: not only does it double the number of iPhones sold in the country compared to 2012, the iPhone was unavailable on any Russia's major carriers for the entire first half of the year.
Carrier went without iPhones for four years
Russian carrier Megafon has announced a direct, three-year deal with Apple to resume selling iPhones, Reuters reports. Despite being Russia's second-biggest cellphone provider, it hasn't sold iPhones since 2009, since both it and its rivals couldn't guarantee the kind of sales numbers Apple was demanding in contracts. Megafon says it will buy various iPhone models under the deal.
Dual-screen YotaPhone has e-paper display for low power consumption
Yota Devices, a Russian-based hardware producer, is planning to sell its dual-screened YotaPhone before the end of this year. The YotaPhone uses a 4.3-inch 720x1280 LCD screen on the front, while on the back is a similar-sized 360x640-resolution e-paper display, with a touch-sensitive area below the second display for gesture controls.
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.
Subsequent rollout phase set for November 1st
The iPhone 5s and 5c will launch in over 28 more countries on October 25th, Apple has announced. Italy, Russia, and Spain have been identified as the main launch regions that day, but the list also includes countries like Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and Thailand. On November 1st, still another 12-plus countries will be added, including India, Mexico, and Turkey.
5.5-inch display, stylus combined with mid-range internals, qHD resolution
LG is preparing to launch another smartphone that appears to be taking on the Samsung Galaxy Note, albeit with lower specifications. The LG G Pro Lite Dual is said to have a large 5.5-inch IPS display, though at a low qHD resolution of 540x860, but it still manages to include a Note-style stylus and space to store it.
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.
First opportunity for Russians to buy directly from Apple
Apple has launched a long-anticipated Russian online storefront. The website marks the first time Russians will be able to buy directly from Apple, since the company has yet to open a retail store in the country. The Russian online store has most of the same services as its counterparts in countries like the US, including chat and phone support.
Status of trademark still unsure
Apple has filed to register the "iWatch" product name in Russia, says local news site Izvestia.ru. The application is said to have been made under the 9th and 14th classes for the International Classification of Goods and Services. AppleInsider comments, though, that it hasn't been able to verify the registration through the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property.
Could boost confidence in Apple stock
The richest man in Russia, Alisher Usmanov, recently bought $100 million in Apple shares, Bloomberg reports. While cautioning that "nothing is eternal," he argues that Apple is a "very promising investment" for the next three years, pointing to the company's plan to return $100 billion to shareholders by 2015. Usmanov's $19.8 billion fortune is based mainly on two websites, Alibaba and Mail.ru, as well as a Facebook investment that yielded over 10 times his initial input.
Attacks stilll traced through 'an iPhone developer website'
Apple, Facebook, and Twitter are among 40 companies that were recently attacked by an eastern European hacker group, not a Chinese one, say two Bloomberg sources. Many parties have linked the attacks to China, sometimes implicating the Chinese government, but the sources say that investigations are pointing to a criminal gang based in eastern Europe or Russia. One server involved is allegedly hosted in the Ukraine.
Mobile payments service Mach plans same for US, Canada
Voice over IP service Skype has started to support direct carrier billing for Skype Credit in Russia, with the United States and Canada set to follow. The new mobile payments option will allow Skype users to purchase Skype Credit directly from the mobile device through their smartphone's browser, with the charge being applied to their account.
Company also searching for other regional positions
Apple is looking to hire a Russian chat team manager for its still-unlaunched Russian online store, reports observe. Although the person will be based in Cork, Ireland, he or she will "lead a team of 12/15 dynamic advisors," according to the job listing, pushing them to "meet or exceed business goals ensuring that all Apple customers are receiving an excellent service." As a part of the job, the manager will have to conduct his/her own hiring.
Culpability depends on which trips were paid for
Apple could be guilty of trying to bribe Russian officials through a seminar in London, according to Russian news agency Regnum. The service says that Apple is organizing a week-long event during which Russian regional ministers of education and other officials, responsible for public purchases, will be familiarized with Apple products. People participating in the event will stay in downtown London, and visit Apple Stores outside customer hours.
Suggests Russia, China flooded with mobile devices mid-2013
Nvidia may be moving towards building its own mobile devices for sale in Russia and China, according to one report. The chip maker, after showing off Tegra 4 at CES, could end up creating smartphones and tablets running on its own hardware, and end up selling them through OEMs as white label hardware.
Giant iPhone display images, videos of Apple co-founder
Unveiled on Wednesday, a new Russian monument recognizes Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, says RIA Novosti. Located in the courtyard of the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, the monument is designed to resemble an oversized iPhone, and displays a photo and video slideshow. On the back of it is a QR code, which when scanned by a phone takes people to a commemorative website.
Apps may not be able to update
People around the world are having trouble accessing the iTunes Store and the Mac and iOS App Stores, according to accounts on Twitter, and tests by MacNN. While the problems aren't universal, they appear to be affecting people in multiple countries, and in some cases may be creating serious issues. Trying to update iOS apps may fail outright, for example.
Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia get video
Following some early premieres, Apple has officially opened access to the iTunes Music Store in 56 more countries. While the company isn't providing a full list, it does highlight Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. Of the new countries, only Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia are getting access to movie rentals and purchases as well.
Launches precede rumored Moscow event
(Updated with info on Russian iTunes Match, Lebanon) The iTunes Music Store has gone live in Russia and Turkey, users say. iOS screenshots show prices of about 15 rubles (49 cents) or 0.89 Turkish lira (50 cents) per track. In Turkey, an album should typically cost 9.99 lira, or about $5.59. Apple hasn't publicly announced the expansions.
iTunes Music Store finally on verge of Russian launch?
A low-profile iTunes event is scheduled for December 4 in Moscow, a leak suggests. One of Apple's Russian PR staffers, Irina Efremova, is said to have sent out an email invitation to a small group of people, indicating that a musical evening will be taking place at GUM, a shopping center in Red Square. Beyond that nothing is certain; it's thought, though, that it could mean that the iTunes Music Store will finally be opening in Russia in the near future.
Apple fails to register iPad design in Russia
Apple's attempt to register a patent in Russia for the schematic design of its iPad has been rejected. Russia's Chamber for Patent Disputes, which handles appeals of decisions made by the Russian Patent Office, rejected Apple's attempt to secure a patent on the iPad's design, claiming that the features Apple wished to patent are not so original as to make them deserving of a design patent. Apple's luck in the Russian market stands in stark contrast to its fortunes in the American patent sphere, where it was recently granted a patent on the same design elements.
In Russia, Google Maps adds detail to 45 cities
Google has made a pair of significant tweaks to its online services. Gmail, notably, now allows users to attach up to 10GB to an email via Google Drive, versus the 25MB the service normally allows. This has some limitations however; people must, for instance, opt into the new Compose function, and recipients with dedicated email clients won't automatically have access to a locally-stored file. In effect Gmail is simply generating links to Google Drive, though this does ensure that recipients have the latest version of an item.
Tech delivers local information, but requires separate app
For Russian data, Apple's iOS 6 Maps app is integrated with a popular local search engine, Yandex, according to TechCrunch sources. If a person browses Russian maps, the Yandex geosearch API is said to kick in, presenting basic details about streets, businesses, and other content. Tapping on an item to get extra details pops people into Yandex's own iOS app, or redirects them to the App Store if they don't already have the software.
Android-based OS said to cut Google out entirely
The Russian defense ministry has been working on a tablet that will run a slimmed-down version of Android, one that eliminates potential security risks by cutting Google's services out of the device entirely. The new tablet, said to have been in the works for the past five years, is intended for use within the Russian military and government, but it could find its way into the hands of private citizens and organizations that place a premium on data security. According to Security Week, a version of the device is scheduled to go on sale to the public by the end of the year.
Samsung highest in total sales; Apple most profitable per unit
According to a report published by wireless carrier MTS, Apple's share of Russia's nascent smartphone market grew slightly the first quarter of 2012. The overall Russian smartphone market grew 10.1 percent by volume from the first quarter of 2011 with Samsung nearly doubling its share primarily at the expense of Nokia, with huge year-over-year gains.
Site to be based on russiawithoutidiots.rf
The Russian government is said to be preparing to roll out its own social network in an effort to boost the importance and efficacy of the Internet in Russian civic life. The Guardian reports that the Kremlin is working out the details on a Facebook-style social network, complete with personal accounts and forums to discuss current events. The network, slated to go online in June, is already attracting negative attention from Russia's vocal opposition parties.
Google deal presumed to influence Mozilla decision
Mozilla will replace Yandex with Google as the default search engine in Russia for the next version of Firefox. Local favorite Yandex has been the default option for the Russian version of the browser since 2009, but will be replaced earlier than the end of the year as previously stated, according to The Next Web. The Russian search company will continue to offer its own Yandex-branded version of Firefox, however, until the end of the year.
Would continue global R&D expansion
Apple is one of several parties in talks with Russia's Skolkovo technology park about possible research and development facilities there, according to local publication Izvestia. Other interested companies are said to include Google and Facebook; agreements are reportedly already in place for firms such as Microsoft, IBM, General Electric, and Cisco. Skolkovo's organizers are said to be aiming at making the park a Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley.
Samsung Android devices affected
An apparent Google Play malfunction has caused surprise among some Android users who have discovered a Russian e-mail app installed on their Samsung device. The app, titled "МТС Мобильная Почта" and translated to MTS Mobile Mail, has led many users to believe their device has been affected by malware.
Conflicts with Apple's own view of device
The Russian Federal Custom Service has chosen to reclassify the iPad as a computer, in theory conferring cheaper prices, reports say. The tablet was previously considered a navigation device, since 3G models include GPS functions. Wi-Fi models don't, although whether the FCS has considered that distinction is unknown.
Could coincide with iPad refresh
A Chinese version of Siri will launch next month, claims DoNews. The website quotes an Apple engineer said to be working on the project, who adds that the technology is already in internal testing, and will moreover be able to process information and navigation requests, something only US Siri users currently enjoy. General language support has so far been restricted to three different English accents, as well as French and German.
Brazil, Russia, South Africa among major regions
The iPhone 4S is now available in over 20 more countries, checks show. A list includes Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. The expansion coincides with expansions of the iTunes Store and iTunes Match.
Taiwan, Malaysia, others cited as launch countries
Brazil and Russia have officially entered the ranks of countries getting the iPhone 4S on December 16th. In Brazil, the local division of carrier Claro has put up a marketing page singling out the date. Some local shops have reportedly been selling the 4S since last week, but unofficially and at extremely high prices, approaching $2,000 for a 16GB model.
Russian GPS network just recently restored
The iPhone 4S supports a Russian version of GPS known as GLONASS, an update to Apple's specifications page shows. The country only just launched the last of 24 satellites needed for global GLONASS coverage at the beginning of October. GLONASS first became fully operational in 1995, but a funding crisis crippled the ability to keep working satellites in orbit. Improvement in the Russian economy since the 2000s and interest from ruler Vladimir Putin has allowed GLONASS to come back to life.