If you’ve been in Russia lately, you’ve probably seen an iPhone or two. Most of them were jailbraked, as Russia was one of a few large countries – including China – that haven’t welcomed the iPhone officially yet. According to Reuters, the number of these unauthorized iPhones in Russia will be as high as 700,000 by the end of this year.
A flood of legal iPhones is expected to hit Russia soon as well, since our friend from Quintura writes that he largest Russian mobile phone operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has agreed with Apple to distribute the shiny object starting from October.
MTS is a major mobile player, it had more than 87 million subscribers at the end of July 2008, 62 million of them are from Russia. 17 million people access Internet from mobile phones in Russia, making the country ranked 4th in mobile phone penetration.
That’s an interesting country for a manufacturer of a 3G phone, why did it take so long? According to industry experts the biggest hurdle in talks with Apple was that Russian operators were not willing to give Apple a part of the iPhone revenue, in exchange for the exclusive sales rights. With that problem ironed out, Russians can almost – surprisingly quick actually – buy the fancy Apple toy.