Lumia 925

It has been reported that the top three major Russian mobile operators have ceased selling the iPhone. VimpelCom has closed its partnership with Apple, following MTS and MegaFon. We previously looked at MTS preferring Windows Phone over the iPhone, feeling more comfortable with Microsoft's mobile platform, but this is an issue for Apple on a larger scale. 

So what's going on? According to reports, VimpelCom is the latest partner to go in Russia and has put the move down to "draconian contracts" and rather harsh conditions, which has led the operator to switch over to Android and take up Samsung. This is a huge blow to Apple since the three operators are the largest cannel to market for smartphones in Russia.

Russia isn't quite yet a massive pool of potential revenue for smartphone vendors, but to not have the three top mobile operators backing your mobile hardware isn't quite the stance Apple (or any company in the industry) requires. Enter Windows Phone and competitors.

Steve Ballmer
MTS chooses Microsoft over Apple

As noted above (and in our coverage), MTS is a strong supporter of Windows Phone and Nokia has been pushing low-end, more affordable hardware into the market. This is a strong combination that has resulted in a steady climb for the platform. Windows Phone 8 has proven to be a small hit but there's still a long way to go, but it's the change of winds like what's occurring in Russia that will play a major part in increasing market shares.

It's also worth noting that Russia isn't the only market where partners are looking to cease deals with Apple due to demanding contracts. How Apple will attempt to work around this issue to maintain working relations with retail partners will be interesting to witness, especially as Microsoft continues to work with Nokia to push cheaper smartphones to consumers.

via: Rethink Wireless; thanks, pbroy, for the tip!