Russia’s largest mobile phone operator MTS has announced it will offer the Apple iPhone for sale—although it offered no other details. The announcement means Russia’s three largest mobile operators—Vimpelcom, MegaFon and now MTS—all have agreements with Apple to sell the iPhone. Presumably, all three operators will be offering the iPhone 3G, although details and pricing information haven’t been announced. Sales are expected to get underway before the end of the year, and the operators aren’t expected to be subsidizing the cost of the handsets.
The iPhone is available in the United States from only a single provider—AT&Tmdash;and while Apple has inked non-exclusive deals with mobile operators in other countries, Russia marks the first instance where the company has made deals with all of a country’s largest mobile operators. Business analysts speculate that Apple wants to have decent exposure in the Russian market in order to maximize sales, since Russian buyers haven’t historically been keen on handsets that are bound to a single phone network.
Apple iPhones currently sell on Russia’s grey market for about $1,000, with over half a million iPhones already estimated to be in use in the country.
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