Major Russian Carrier Cuts Ties With Apple, Climbs Into Bed With Samsung


VimpelCom, owner of Beeline, Russia’s third-biggest mobile carrier, has cut its ties with Apple and decided it will no longer offer the iPhone. The company reportedly feels Apple’s conditions are too “harsh,” and so it has inked a deal with its biggest rival instead.

VimpelCom isn’t the first Russian carrier to walk away from the iPhone. In fact, all three of those that signed up to sell it in 2008 — including MTS and Megafon, Russia’s biggest carriers — no longer offer it anymore. That’s despite the iPhone being a big seller in Russia.

Dmitry Ryabinin, chief analyst for Russian Hi-Tech publication, suggests that the reason these companies have decided not to do business with Apple is that its “conditions are too harsh, especially in the marketing department, and are not always beneficial for its partners.”

To make up for the loss of the iPhone, VimpelCom has signed a deal with another smartphone maker — Samsung.

Apple’s market share is already falling in Russia. During the first quarter, it grabbed just 8.4% of the smartphone market, down from 9% a year earlier. But it appears the Cupertino company isn’t willing to change its strict terms in an effort to turn that around.

You can still buy an iPhone in Russia; it’s available through Svyaznoy, a chain of Apple resellers, and Apple will soon have its own retail stores there. But without availability on any of Russia’s major carriers, it’ll be harder to get hold of.