Last week at the WWDC, Steve Jobs announced that the iPhone 3G will be available in 70 countries. Russia, however, was not on that list.
But to the relief of many Russian iPhoners, Steve Jobs made the following statement in an interview on CNBC last week:
"We just didn’t have a chance to close a deal with Russia. And I think you’ll see agreements happen later this year."
This is huge news for Russia, for no Russian service provider ever had an official deal with Apple. All iPhone’s in Russia have been unlocked and shipped from abroad – and sold for approximately $1,000 in a "black market" fashion.
There are an estimated 300,000 illegitimate iPhone users in Russia already. Eldar Murtazin, editor of Moscow based Mobile Research Group said:
"About 20,000 iPhone handsets are brought into the country in suitcases every month. The current model, which sells officially in six countries for a marked-up $399, currently sells for about $1,000 in Moscow."
Russia will be a huge market for Apple, but the rules change there. Service carriers follow different laws and guidelines (different enough to make them not interested in signing deals for the original iPhone). For one, service carriers are not legally allowed to charge for breach of contract, which makes "exclusivity" deals far less exclusive.
However, with Apple’s new financial plan which doesn’t require profit sharing, Russian service providers like Mobile TeleSystems and MegaFon, could be hopping on the holy smartphone bandwagon real quick.