iPhone 3G comes officially to Russia

The iPhone 3G went on sale in Russia on Friday – officially bringing the smartphone to the market. Until now, users in Russia have had to purchase grey market phones or buy abroad and have them unlocked.

The country's big 3 mobile carriers – MTS, MegaFon, and Vimpelcom – all reached agreements with Apple, and the device is also being sold in electronics retail shops across the country.

Without a contract, the 8 gigabyte model retails for $900 dollars, the 16 gigabyte for more than $1000 dollars.  Discounts of up to 50% are available with contract-style plans offered by the operators.

Vimpelcom's VP for Marketing and Sales, Kent McNeley, says this could be the beginning of an era of subscriber plans – replacing pay-as-you-go, which is mainstream in Russia.

“I think it certainly will move us in that direction.  This will be one of the first times that we've had unlimited data and unlimited WIFI.  And particularly here in Moscow where 3G isn't likely to be around for a while, our WIFI network with more than 15,000 hot spots here in Moscow will give people the chance to enjoy the fast Internet that the iPhone 3G offers.”