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25 Aug, 2008 01:58

iPhone comes to Russia - officially

Russian consumers will be able to buy iPhones legally in late September. Details of the deal between Apple and key mobile operators in the country are secret. However, it's believed that official sales will decimate the so-called grey market in the phones

Sleek, modern, and official. After its original debut in June last year, the iPhone has won the hearts of many consumers around the world. That includes Russians – even though the phone has not, until now, been marketed in the country.

Grey imports from the U.S. and, later, Europe total around half a million units.  Eldar Murtazin, Head of PF research at Mobile Research Group says this makes the grey Russian market the third largest globally.

“The market share for the grey market, is much higher than any of the other countries in Europe.  In the third place worldwide take iphone sales in Russia, after the official US market, domestic market, and the China market where the iPhone wasn’t official.”

The official reseller of Apple in Russia – Maczone – will start selling iPhones from late September in cooperation with the top three mobile operators MTS, Vimpelcom and Megafon. The price? Not yet revealed. Pyotr Semyonov, Development Director at Maczone says it will be similar to the European price.

“Apple considers Russia as Europe so the price is likely to be close to THE European. Currently it is up to 450 dollars with a multi-year contract or up to 900 dollars without a contract.”

Unlike the exclusive operator deals seen in some countries, analysts expect several operators to offer the iPhone. All servicing will be handled through an authorized service center. However the official arrival of the mobile gadget is likely to hit the grey market dealers hard.