Russians can now ask Siri about the best restaurants on Arbat Street without having to pay a ridiculous mark-up for their iOS devices.
The first online Apple store in the Russian Federation opened for business on June 26, which prompted several clever (and not so clever) headlines talking about the “iRon Curtain” and Russians getting their “iFix.” The store’s homepage greets visitors with the message “Hello Internet,” along with a clickable photo of two Russian virtual assistants to help newcomers with their purchases.
The company had been trying to establish some kind of direct presence in the country since at least 2011, according to Engadget.com. Apple had wanted to follow in the footstep of Research in Motion when the company teamed with ASBIS Group to make Blackberry 10 devices available to Russians via brick-and-mortar stores. But the company decided against the idea when it could not find a premiere spot in Moscow to establish the business.
Great Deal For Russians
Before the launch of the online store, Russians could only get Apple products through third-party retailers that charged considerably higher prices than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Those wanting a MacBook Air had to pay upwards of 47,000 rubles ($1,426) plus shipping through re-sellers, according to the Moscow Times. The new Apple store not only offers free shipping for orders exceeding $120, but that same MacBook Air costs $1,300 when purchased directly from the company. This is not the case with every product, however. The iPhone 5, for instance, is more expensive via the Apple Store than it is through re-sellers.
Apple will deliver items directly to customers in Moscow and St. Petersburg only and they will have the option of paying with cash upon delivery. It is unclear if or when the delivery service, DHL, will reach other parts of the country.
Russia To The Rescue
Though the Siberia-sized gap between rich and poor in Russia is larger than ever, the wealthy and middle-class are not shy about indulging in big-ticket items. Marketwire says Russia is one of the largest buyers of multi-million dollar yachts. Rolls Royce is a hot-selling car in Moscow as well, despite a luxury tax on such items. Apple makes no secret about its target customers being more affluent. Comscore found that 41 percent of iPhone users make more than $100,000 annually, while only 24 percent of Android users are in that same category.
Apple hopes that Russia’s 143 million people will help stop the continual downward spiral of its stock. It closed below $402.63 per share the same day the company announced its foray into Russia, down 24 percent for the year. Russia, along with China and Brazil, are considered “emerging” markets by economists. CEO Tim Cook said in January that China and Russia are the keys to Apple becoming the dominant global company, surpassing even the likes of Exxon and other oil giants.
Apple reported a net profit of $10.09 per share for fiscal Q2 2013, down from $12.30 in Q2 2012. It was the company’s first year-over-year decline in nearly 10 years.