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11 Feb, 2008 03:46

Apple gives Russian fans the pip

Apple Inc. have held their first media conference in Russia to showcase new products but the event appears to have backfired after Russia’s fans hit out at the limited product range, and prices up to 59 per cent above those in America. Apple vendors rejec

The new MacBook Air costs $US 1,700 in America, but at its first press conference in Russia Apple announced the computer will cost an extra thousand dollars. The price of the 16Gb iPod Touch in the U.S. is $US 400, while in Russia it’s $US 680 – a 59 per cent mark-up.
Mac users have vented their rage at what they’ve termed Apple’s “PR Fiasco”.
“The whole press conference went on about movie rentals, Apple TV, iPod Touch update, but iTunes doesn’t exist in Russia. It makes all this news useless. The iPod Touch and MacBook Air here don’t have Russian localisation. That’s illegal. It’s just a matter of time before someone files a claim with consumer protection organisation RosPotrebNadzor,” said Alex Patsay, a Mac user.
One of Russia’s top licensed Mac vendors argued that it was like comparing apples with oranges.
“It’s not the fairest comparison. Yes, in America the product is cheaper, but there are factors like Russian laws, import duties. Compared with Europe, Russian prices are about the same, and lower than in London,” claimed Evgeny, an Apple vendor in Moscow.
A reaction to Apple’s restrictions has been to break the law. It’s failed to reach an exclusivity arrangement with a national phone operator, so iPhones aren’t legally available.

However, Russian phone shops now offer to illegally unlock iPhones bought abroad. Mac experts told Russia Today there were an estimated half a million unlocked iPhones in the world.
Official sellers admitted the situation was less than ideal.
“Until it finds an official network partner, the iPhone gets dismantled, in other words re-wired. The product should be certified, then if there’s a problem you’d get proper support,” Evgeny added.
Apple refused requests for a reaction to their critics. Meanwhile it’s facing an uphill struggle to turn round Russian consumers, who – rightly or wrongly – are feeling neglected and even cheated.