December 22, 2009 |
The situation with Apple iPhone in Russia is a very peculiar one but Russian mobile carriers still seem to believe in the geeky gadget – believe in it enough to arrange for the new model, iPhone 3GS sales in Russia even despite of the disaster with the previous model, iPhone 3G.
The very first iPhone model was never officially sold in Russia but Russian users still managed to buy their gadgets from various online stores that brought the devices in illegally here. iPhones were brought here in suitcases full of the gadgets – and easily found the buyers on the gray market.
Unfortunately the Russian mobile carriers overestimated the capacity of the market when they finally reached an agreement with Apple on official sales in the country. The thing is that the three largest carriers undertook an obligation to sell as many as 3.5 million iPhones in the country all together – and did not reach the target due to the price that was too high for the target audience and to partly satisfied demand during the initial period of huge sales on the gray market. These factors resulted in only estimated 400 devices sold in the country over the year and in carriers refraining from importing the new batches of devices they were supposed to sell here.
The disaster with sales of iPhone 3G made many industry analysts predict that the Russian carriers will not agree to sell the next model, iPhone 3GS, here unless Apple agrees to cut the price significantly to make sales possible at all and not to bind them with any specific sales volumes as was the case last time.
The news today is that two of the three largest Russian carriers have finally reached an agreement with Apple on iPhone 3GS which means that the gadget will be officially sold in Russia – as soon as in the first three months of 2010. It is also reported that the third carrier is also in negotiations with Apple – without any information on when the negotiations will approach some specific results.
Unfortunately the conditions of the new agreement are not available for now – and of course price is the most important factor to consider here – and the most intriguing one at that. The initial price for Russian carriers suggested by Apple was from 400 to 540 euro depending on the configuration. This price translated in retail prices of $900 to $1,200 – and since the carriers here quickly realized they will not achieve any sales with the device priced like this, the iPhone 3GS still has not made its official presence in the country.
I believe that the fact that two out of three carriers will begin sales next year means that they have negotiated at least somewhat better conditions with Apple – not sure about the price but probably they have managed to lift the sales targets at least.
Another approach could be finally offering the gadget on contracts to the end users, especially since it is so much easier to buy an unlocked iPhone from eBay or elsewhere for only a fraction of the official retail price. And while buying phones under contract is not something people here are accustomed to, maybe this should be the habit the carriers will educate us to use in exchange of an affordable solution to owning the wildly popular iPhone even for those who cannot afford to pay more than $1k right away for the phone. But again, these are nothing but my guesses and only time will tell what exactly we will see with iPhone 3GS in Russia – some positive developments or the same overpriced device no one will be buying despite the usual heavy advertising.
Via (in Russian)