Persuading the major Russian cellular providers to sign on as iPhone partner carriers has led to dividends for Apple, as the company’s iPhone sales in Russia doubled in 2013 to 1.57 million units.
Despite not being available on three of Russia’s largest carriers for the first half of 2013, market research firm IDC said Apple’s iPhone sales in the region doubled to 1.57 million units last year, reports Bloomberg. Now the telcos are jumping on the iPhone bandwagon, adding to Apple’s presence in the country.
Russian providers MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems and VimpelCom were not willing to agree to Apple’s usual partner carrier requirements. Those call for iPhone promotion, handset subsidies and minimum sales agreements.
Russian market leader MTS doesn’t have an official deal with Apple, instead getting its iPhone stock from a third-party distributor.
Russian law prohibits carriers from discounting devices in exchange for a long-term contract, so the three largest carriers were reluctant to take on the burden of an official Apple contract until the middle of last year.
Apple worked around that by distributing iPhones via major electronics stores, moving approximately 700,000 units in 2013.
That apparently got the attention of the Russian carriers, as MegaFon re-signed its contract with Apple in December after a three-year lapse, while Mobile TeleSystems and VimpelCom resumed iPhone sales in October.
It should be noted that most of the iPhones sold were of the cheaper iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S variety.
Reuters reported in January that while Apple held only 9% of the overall Russian smartphone market, it accounted for 20% of revenues.