24 Feb 2010 19:59

iPhone 3GS could hit Russian market in March

MOSCOW. Feb 24 (Interfax) - Russia's big three cellular providers will start to sell Apple's iPhone 3GS in the near future.

Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) , VimpelCom and MegaFon were not commenting on plans to sell the iPhone 3GS, but a source close to these companies told Interfax it would hit the Russian market in March, "not later than the third week."

All three operators will charge the same price. A 16-gigabyte model can already be pre-ordered at VimpelCom's on-line store for 29,990 rubles and a 32-gig version for 34,990 rubles.

The big three agreed at the end of December to start selling the iPhone 3GS in Russia in the first quarter of 2010.

Apple launched the communicator in June, and this was supposed to go on sale in Russia for the New Year, but the Russian providers baulked at Apple's asking price. Sources said Apple was offering to sell the phones to the Russian operators for EUR 400-450.

They now say the price has not altered, but that Apple had relaxed its terms. The companies will buy around 50,000 3G and 3GS iPhones in the first two months and will have to buy around 100,000 in the course of the year.

Originally, the Russian retailers committed to selling 3.5 million iPhones in 2008-2009, but sales were lower than expected at around 400,000 by the end of November.