The Chief of Russia's largest mobile operator, OAO Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has stated that the company would require better terms to back Apple after Windows Phones advance to almost match iPhones in market share. Ouch. According to Bloomberg, MTS ceased selling iPhones in its stores at the end of 2012 and has strengthened its relationship with other hardware vendors, including those who produce smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.
The company hosted Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop in Moscow back in November. MTS, controlled by billionaire Vladimir Evtushenkov’s AFK Sistema, agreed to promote and market Windows Phones, including Nokia Lumias and opened Windows Phone zones in its flagship stores - much like what we've seen with Best Buy in the US.
Windows Phone accounted for just over 8.2 percent of all smartphones sold in Russia in the first quarter of this year, while Apple only had 9 percent, according to research firm IDC. Chief Executive Officer Andrei Dubovskov said the following in an interview in St. Petersburg:
"Apple wants operators to pay them huge money, subsidizing iPhones and their promotion in Russia. Now it’s not beneficial for us. It’s good we stopped selling the iPhone as these sales would’ve brought us a negative margin."
This marks as a rather large step forward for Windows Phone. While the operator declined to provide actual figures, it did note that the percentage of Windows Phones on their network is more than what's found in Russia in general. Now that's progress. We've also witnessed the platform growing in a number of other markets, but Russia has been an interesting country with ups and downs ever since the platform launched.
It'll be interesting to see how the situation and story develops in Russia and how Nokia can continue pushing alongside other manufacturers.