Each of the three major wireless carriers in Russia, MTS, MegaFon, and now VimpelCom, have opted to stop selling the Apple iPhone, citing tough contractual requirements as the cause.
VimpelCom, the last of the major Russian carriers to separate from Apple, says it has put Samsung on the top of the list for smartphone manufacturers to promote, second only to its own BeeLine brand, reports Rethink Wireless.
VimpelCom said that it decided to drop Apple because of their “draconian contracts” and “harsh conditions... especially in the marketing department,” Dmitry Ryabinin, chief analyst for Russian Hi-Tech told PhoneArena.
The decision may also have been influenced by Vimplecom’s recent deal with Samsung, who reportedly offered the wireless company much more favorable terms. This comes as another blow to Apple in the ongoing global battle with Samsung.
Apple’s market share in Russia is slowly falling; it’s decreased from 9% in Q1 2012, to 8.4% in Q1 2013. There is now only one retail store that carries iPhone’s, but Apple is preparing to open it’s own chain of Apple Stores in Russia soon. In addition to the brick and mortar stores, Apple launched the official online Apple Store in Russia on June 26.
Like in other developing countries, the iPhone is seen as more than just a phone, it's also a status symbol. With 143 million people, Russia is expected to surpass the United States in 2018 as one of the world’s top smartphone markets, along with Brazil, China, and India, and is definitely not a market that Apple wants to get cut out of.