Apple pauses all product sales in Russia but access to App Store remains
Following pleas from the Ukraine governmentBy Rob Thubron 14 comments
What just happened? Apple has confirmed it is the latest company to pause the sale of its products in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Cupertino has already cut some Russian users off from Apple Pay due to sanctions against the country, though it has yet to block the App Store---a request made by Ukraine's vice prime minister.
In response to the invasion, Apple has paused all product sales in Russia, limited Apple Pay, and removed RT News and Sputnik News for the App Stores outside of the country. It has also disabled traffic patterns and live incident reports in Apple Maps in Ukraine to prevent the monitoring of Ukrainian movements.
"We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence," Apple said in a statement on Tuesday.
Last week, Ukraine's vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who is also the minister of digital transformation, tweeted an open letter to Tim Cook asking Apple to stop supplying its services and products to the Russian Federation, including blocking access to the App Store. He also recently asked PlayStation and Xbox to stop supporting Russian markets.
I've contacted @tim_cook, Apple's CEO, to block the Apple Store for citizens of the Russian Federation, and to support the package of US government sanctions! If you agree to have the president-killer, then you will have to be satisfied with the only available site Russia 24. pic.twitter.com/b5dm78g2vS--- Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 25, 2022
While Apple has now granted most of the requests, it fell short of blocking the App Store in Russia. Fedorov urged Cook to "finish the job" following the announcement. "They kill our children, now kill their access!" he tweeted.
iPhones are the third most popular smartphone brand in Russia, taking 15% of the market, behind Xiaomi (26%) and leader Samsung (34%).
Tech giants are rushing to take action against Russia in response to the violence in Ukraine. Intel and AMD have stopped industrial chip sales to the country, Meta has barred Russian state-run media from selling ads on its platforms, and Google has blocked Russian state media from earning money on its services while also limiting exposure to those channels on YouTube.
Apple's full statement:
We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence. We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.
We have taken a number of actions in response to the invasion. We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited. RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia. And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.
We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking. We join all those around the world who are calling for peace.