After giving iPhone the cold shoulder earlier this year, Russia's leading mobile operators said they will start selling the new iPhone 5c and 5s models on Oct. 25, although only VimpelCom has signed a distribution deal with Apple.
Russia's MTS and VimpelCom will begin selling the iPhone 5s, along with the 5c, on Oct. 25.
MTS said in a statement that it would start selling the iPhone 5c and 5s in more than 130 company retail outlets in the Moscow region before extending sales to other parts of Russia. A spokesperson for the operator also confirmed a Reuters report that it will purchase the smartphones from distributors rather than signing a direct deal with Apple.
On the other hand, VimpelCom confirmed that it has signed a distribution deal with the company and plans to sell the devices in more than 1,000 Beeline outlets across Russia.
It is not yet clear what MegaFon plans to do, and the company did not respond to requests for information. MegaFon said previously that it had not sold iPhones since 2009.
Before the arrival of the latest iPhones, all Russian operators stopped selling iPhones in Russia after becoming disenchanted with the strict conditions imposed by Apple.
At the time, Vyacheslav Nikolaev, the director of B2C marketing at MTS, said that Apple had previously made a strategic mistake in Russia: iPhones were launched there three to four months after other markets. Therefore, Russian consumers who wanted an iPhone would travel to Europe or the U.S. and buy one there. "So when the official versions were launched, anyone that wanted one probably already had one," Nikolaev said.
Russian operators do not subsidise smartphones for customers in exchange for long-term contracts, thus reducing the incentive of buying the device through an operator.
Research firm Canalys reported in January this year that markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and China (BRIIC) will drive much of the volume growth in the global smartphone market in 2013 and beyond. The company forecast that smartphone shipments in Russia would grow by 30.7 per cent this year to 18.8 million units.
- see this Reuters article
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