Apple Shutters Russian Online Store as Ruble Plummets

Devalued ruble meant Apple was losing money selling iPhones

Credit: flickr/david orban

Apple's online store for Russian customers was offline all day Tuesday after the U.S. company shut down the mart because of the ruble's plunge.

Although Apple did not immediately reply to questions late Tuesday, it had told other news outlets earlier in the day that it had closed the digital doors "while we review pricing."

The Russian ruble fell as much as 20% Tuesday against the dollar before recovering slightly. But the dramatic drop of the ruble's value would have translated into plummeting prices for Apple's goods if the Cupertino, Calif. company had not pulled the plug on its online store.

On Monday, the price of a 16GB iPhone 6 on the Russian Apple store was equivalent to $688 at the day's exchange rate. On Tuesday, that same smartphone was going for the equivalent of just $574, a 17% decline for Apple.

Apple had already tried to deal with the falling ruble by boosting the price of the iPhone 6 by 25% last month, from 31,900 rubles to 39,900 rubles for the 16GB model.

Apple does not have any of its own brick-and-mortar stores in Russia -- the nearest are in Germany, Sweden and Turkey -- but local resellers, including large electronics chains, and mobile carriers sell its hardware.

One of those electronics chains, Svyaznoy, continued to sell the 16GB iPhone 6 late Tuesday for 39,900 rubles, the same price as Apple's before it shuttered its online store.

According to press reports, Russian consumers Tuesday rushed to purchase high-ticket goods, particularly appliances, before the value of the ruble fell even further or prices were boosted to compensate, hoping to have something tangible in hand in case the currency collapsed. Some of those consumers may have looked at electronics, including smartphones, in much the same way.

According to IDC, Apple sold approximately 1.6 million iPhones in Russia in 2013, or slightly more than 1% of the global total for the year.

This story, "Apple Shutters Russian Online Store as Ruble Plummets" was originally published by Computerworld.

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