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Briefly: Russian gov't drops iPads; Clear, Fantastical upgrades coming

03/27, 12:27am

Government of Russia swaps iPads for customized, secure Samsung tablets

Russian government officials have opted to stop using iPads in official capacities, possible due to concerns about alleged "backdoors" that allowed for NSA monitoring (which Apple has denied). Instead the government has arranged a deal with Samsung that will see politicos using customized, secured tablets specifically designed to handle confidential information as legislators often need to have available. There was no detail on prices or the cost of dropping the iPads, and the move could be seen as part of an effort to stop supporting American companies, given the US opposition to Russia's policies in the Ukraine and Crimea. Russian officials have denied any such motivation, reports Business Insider.

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Russia's Megafon to sell 750,000 iPhones by 2016

03/08, 12:00am

Agreement with Apple requires $28 million in marketing as well

After not carrying the iPhone for nearly four years because of a dispute about sales guarantees, Russia's second-largest carrier Megafon signed a new deal with Apple late last year to return to selling the popular smartphone. The new deal requires the carrier to buy at least 750,000 iPhones over the course of three years, and spend at least $28 million in marketing the smartphone. While not a high number compared to the US, the figure was called "reasonable" by Russian financial analysts.

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Briefly: Combo headset and fitness band, Bing adds Timeline to searche

02/24, 2:11am

Huawei announces TalkBand B1, unlikely to be released in US

Huawei has announced its upcoming wearable tech device, the TalkBand B1. Described as both a fitness band and Bluetooth headset combined, the band has a removable earpiece that accepts calls, and when used in the band tracks physical activities including sleep. Its 90mAh battery can last up to six days powering the flexible OLED display. The TalkBand B1 is not anticipating release in the US, though will be available in Chinese markets next month, and Japan, the Middle East, Russia and Western Europe in the second quarter of 2014.

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Apple's iPhones sales in Russia doubled in 2013

02/18, 7:02pm

Very modest 1.57 million units represents major progress

While a hair over a million and a half iPhones sold sounds (and is) pretty bad for a company with the influence and presence of Apple, the 1.57 million units sold in Russia in 2013 represent something of a (small) triumph: not only does it double the number of iPhones sold in the country compared to 2012, the iPhone was unavailable on any Russia's major carriers for the entire first half of the year.

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Megafon to resume selling iPhones with three-year deal

01/27, 10:01am

Carrier went without iPhones for four years

Russian carrier Megafon has announced a direct, three-year deal with Apple to resume selling iPhones, Reuters reports. Despite being Russia's second-biggest cellphone provider, it hasn't sold iPhones since 2009, since both it and its rivals couldn't guarantee the kind of sales numbers Apple was demanding in contracts. Megafon says it will buy various iPhone models under the deal.

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Yota Devices launching YotaPhone with e-paper display by end of year

11/14, 8:03am

Dual-screen YotaPhone has e-paper display for low power consumption

Yota Devices, a Russian-based hardware producer, is planning to sell its dual-screened YotaPhone before the end of this year. The YotaPhone uses a 4.3-inch 720x1280 LCD screen on the front, while on the back is a similar-sized 360x640-resolution e-paper display, with a touch-sensitive area below the second display for gesture controls.

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MTS, VimpelCom to resume Russian iPhone sales with iPhone 5s, 5c

10/23, 10:10am

MTS to go through third-party distributors

Russian carriers MTS and VimpelCom will resume selling the iPhone on October 25th, says Reuters. All three major local carriers -- the continuing holdout being Megafon -- stopped direct sales of the iPhone earlier this year, as they chose not renew their contracts with Apple. The Russian government doesn't allow cellphone subsidies, and given the high cost of the iPhone, that put the device out of reach for many people. Apple, meanwhile, was demanding strict sales volumes and marketing budgets.

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iPhone 5s, 5c to launch in over 28 more countries starting Oct. 25th

10/09, 9:25am

Subsequent rollout phase set for November 1st

The iPhone 5s and 5c will launch in over 28 more countries on October 25th, Apple has announced. Italy, Russia, and Spain have been identified as the main launch regions that day, but the list also includes countries like Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and Thailand. On November 1st, still another 12-plus countries will be added, including India, Mexico, and Turkey.

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LG G Pro Lite Dual stylus-equipped phablet for Russia leaks

09/30, 7:09am

5.5-inch display, stylus combined with mid-range internals, qHD resolution

LG is preparing to launch another smartphone that appears to be taking on the Samsung Galaxy Note, albeit with lower specifications. The LG G Pro Lite Dual is said to have a large 5.5-inch IPS display, though at a low qHD resolution of 540x860, but it still manages to include a Note-style stylus and space to store it.

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All three major Russian carriers no longer selling iPhones

07/17, 3:05pm

Russian buyers forced to turn to other sources

All three major Russian phone carriers have stopped selling the iPhone at their stores, leaving people to buy from Apple directly, Svyaznoy outlets, or else the black/gray market, says Fortune. The last holdout was VimpleCom, whose Beeline brand severed its ties with Apple last week, replacing the iPhone 5 in its lineup with the Samsung Galaxy S4. Beeline blames the switch on "draconian [Apple] contracts" and "harsh conditions...especially in the marketing department." Previously, MTS CEO Andrei Dubovskov stated that "Apple wants operators to pay them huge money subsidizing iPhones and their promotion in Russia" when asked about his own company dropping the hardware.

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Apple opens long-awaited Russian online store

06/26, 9:29am

First opportunity for Russians to buy directly from Apple

Apple has launched a long-anticipated Russian online storefront. The website marks the first time Russians will be able to buy directly from Apple, since the company has yet to open a retail store in the country. The Russian online store has most of the same services as its counterparts in countries like the US, including chat and phone support.

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Apple allegedly files for 'iWatch' name in Russia

06/05, 9:26am

Status of trademark still unsure

Apple has filed to register the "iWatch" product name in Russia, says local news site Izvestia.ru. The application is said to have been made under the 9th and 14th classes for the International Classification of Goods and Services. AppleInsider comments, though, that it hasn't been able to verify the registration through the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property.

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Russian billionaire buys $100 million in Apple shares

04/30, 1:17pm

Could boost confidence in Apple stock

The richest man in Russia, Alisher Usmanov, recently bought $100 million in Apple shares, Bloomberg reports. While cautioning that "nothing is eternal," he argues that Apple is a "very promising investment" for the next three years, pointing to the company's plan to return $100 billion to shareholders by 2015. Usmanov's $19.8 billion fortune is based mainly on two websites, Alibaba and Mail.ru, as well as a Facebook investment that yielded over 10 times his initial input.

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Sources blame European group for Apple, Facebook hacks

02/20, 1:32pm

Attacks stilll traced through 'an iPhone developer website'

Apple, Facebook, and Twitter are among 40 companies that were recently attacked by an eastern European hacker group, not a Chinese one, say two Bloomberg sources. Many parties have linked the attacks to China, sometimes implicating the Chinese government, but the sources say that investigations are pointing to a criminal gang based in eastern Europe or Russia. One server involved is allegedly hosted in the Ukraine.

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Skype offers direct carrier billing to users in Russia

02/05, 2:54pm

Mobile payments service Mach plans same for US, Canada

Voice over IP service Skype has started to support direct carrier billing for Skype Credit in Russia, with the United States and Canada set to follow. The new mobile payments option will allow Skype users to purchase Skype Credit directly from the mobile device through their smartphone's browser, with the charge being applied to their account.

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Apple hiring staff for yet-to-launch Russian online store

02/05, 1:33pm

Company also searching for other regional positions

Apple is looking to hire a Russian chat team manager for its still-unlaunched Russian online store, reports observe. Although the person will be based in Cork, Ireland, he or she will "lead a team of 12/15 dynamic advisors," according to the job listing, pushing them to "meet or exceed business goals ensuring that all Apple customers are receiving an excellent service." As a part of the job, the manager will have to conduct his/her own hiring.

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Bribery concerns follow Apple meet with Russian officials

01/30, 11:12am

Culpability depends on which trips were paid for

Apple could be guilty of trying to bribe Russian officials through a seminar in London, according to Russian news agency Regnum. The service says that Apple is organizing a week-long event during which Russian regional ministers of education and other officials, responsible for public purchases, will be familiarized with Apple products. People participating in the event will stay in downtown London, and visit Apple Stores outside customer hours.

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Rumor: Nvidia heading into 'white label' device production

01/28, 2:17pm

Suggests Russia, China flooded with mobile devices mid-2013

Nvidia may be moving towards building its own mobile devices for sale in Russia and China, according to one report. The chip maker, after showing off Tegra 4 at CES, could end up creating smartphones and tablets running on its own hardware, and end up selling them through OEMs as white label hardware.

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New St. Petersburg monument pays homage to Steve Jobs

01/10, 10:44am

Giant iPhone display images, videos of Apple co-founder

Unveiled on Wednesday, a new Russian monument recognizes Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, says RIA Novosti. Located in the courtyard of the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, the monument is designed to resemble an oversized iPhone, and displays a photo and video slideshow. On the back of it is a QR code, which when scanned by a phone takes people to a commemorative website.

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iTunes, App Stores see outages; Russian iTunes debut gaffe

12/05, 1:03pm

Apps may not be able to update

People around the world are having trouble accessing the iTunes Store and the Mac and iOS App Stores, according to accounts on Twitter, and tests by MacNN. While the problems aren't universal, they appear to be affecting people in multiple countries, and in some cases may be creating serious issues. Trying to update iOS apps may fail outright, for example.

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iTunes Music Store officially launches in 56 more countries

12/04, 9:09am

Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia get video

Following some early premieres, Apple has officially opened access to the iTunes Music Store in 56 more countries. While the company isn't providing a full list, it does highlight Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. Of the new countries, only Russia, Turkey, India, and Indonesia are getting access to movie rentals and purchases as well.

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iTunes Music Store going live in Russia, Turkey [u]

12/03, 4:32pm

Launches precede rumored Moscow event

(Updated with info on Russian iTunes Match, Lebanon) The iTunes Music Store has gone live in Russia and Turkey, users say. iOS screenshots show prices of about 15 rubles (49 cents) or 0.89 Turkish lira (50 cents) per track. In Turkey, an album should typically cost 9.99 lira, or about $5.59. Apple hasn't publicly announced the expansions.

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Moscow iTunes event expected to take place December 4

12/03, 9:39am

iTunes Music Store finally on verge of Russian launch?

A low-profile iTunes event is scheduled for December 4 in Moscow, a leak suggests. One of Apple's Russian PR staffers, Irina Efremova, is said to have sent out an email invitation to a small group of people, indicating that a musical evening will be taking place at GUM, a shopping center in Red Square. Beyond that nothing is certain; it's thought, though, that it could mean that the iTunes Music Store will finally be opening in Russia in the near future.

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Russia denies Apple's iPad design patent appeal

11/28, 1:56pm

Apple fails to register iPad design in Russia

Apple's attempt to register a patent in Russia for the schematic design of its iPad has been rejected. Russia's Chamber for Patent Disputes, which handles appeals of decisions made by the Russian Patent Office, rejected Apple's attempt to secure a patent on the iPad's design, claiming that the features Apple wished to patent are not so original as to make them deserving of a design patent. Apple's luck in the Russian market stands in stark contrast to its fortunes in the American patent sphere, where it was recently granted a patent on the same design elements.

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Gmail gains up to 10GB in attachments via Google Drive

11/27, 1:41pm

In Russia, Google Maps adds detail to 45 cities

Google has made a pair of significant tweaks to its online services. Gmail, notably, now allows users to attach up to 10GB to an email via Google Drive, versus the 25MB the service normally allows. This has some limitations however; people must, for instance, opt into the new Compose function, and recipients with dedicated email clients won't automatically have access to a locally-stored file. In effect Gmail is simply generating links to Google Drive, though this does ensure that recipients have the latest version of an item.

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iOS 6 Maps integrates with Yandex search in Russia

09/17, 12:41pm

Tech delivers local information, but requires separate app

For Russian data, Apple's iOS 6 Maps app is integrated with a popular local search engine, Yandex, according to TechCrunch sources. If a person browses Russian maps, the Yandex geosearch API is said to kick in, presenting basic details about streets, businesses, and other content. Tapping on an item to get extra details pops people into Yandex's own iOS app, or redirects them to the App Store if they don't already have the software.

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Leery of Google's tracking, Russia develops Android fork

09/03, 9:36pm

Android-based OS said to cut Google out entirely

The Russian defense ministry has been working on a tablet that will run a slimmed-down version of Android, one that eliminates potential security risks by cutting Google's services out of the device entirely. The new tablet, said to have been in the works for the past five years, is intended for use within the Russian military and government, but it could find its way into the hands of private citizens and organizations that place a premium on data security. According to Security Week, a version of the device is scheduled to go on sale to the public by the end of the year.

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Samsung crushes competition in Russian wireless market

07/09, 9:25pm

Samsung highest in total sales; Apple most profitable per unit

According to a report published by wireless carrier MTS, Apple's share of Russia's nascent smartphone market grew slightly the first quarter of 2012. The overall Russian smartphone market grew 10.1 percent by volume from the first quarter of 2011 with Samsung nearly doubling its share primarily at the expense of Nokia, with huge year-over-year gains.

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Guardian: Russian government to create its own Facebook

06/19, 8:13pm

Site to be based on russiawithoutidiots.rf

The Russian government is said to be preparing to roll out its own social network in an effort to boost the importance and efficacy of the Internet in Russian civic life. The Guardian reports that the Kremlin is working out the details on a Facebook-style social network, complete with personal accounts and forums to discuss current events. The network, slated to go online in June, is already attracting negative attention from Russia's vocal opposition parties.

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Mozilla replaces Yandex with Google in Russian Firefox

06/08, 1:47pm

Google deal presumed to influence Mozilla decision

Mozilla will replace Yandex with Google as the default search engine in Russia for the next version of Firefox. Local favorite Yandex has been the default option for the Russian version of the browser since 2009, but will be replaced earlier than the end of the year as previously stated, according to The Next Web. The Russian search company will continue to offer its own Yandex-branded version of Firefox, however, until the end of the year.

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Apple allegedly interested in Russian R&D facility

05/18, 3:04pm

Would continue global R&D expansion

Apple is one of several parties in talks with Russia's Skolkovo technology park about possible research and development facilities there, according to local publication Izvestia. Other interested companies are said to include Google and Facebook; agreements are reportedly already in place for firms such as Microsoft, IBM, General Electric, and Cisco. Skolkovo's organizers are said to be aiming at making the park a Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley.

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Google Play glitch pushes Russian e-mail app onto US devices

03/26, 9:35pm

Samsung Android devices affected

An apparent Google Play malfunction has caused surprise among some Android users who have discovered a Russian e-mail app installed on their Samsung device. The app, titled "МТС Мобильная Почта" and translated to MTS Mobile Mail, has led many users to believe their device has been affected by malware.

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Russian customs reclassify iPad as computer, nix import tax

03/06, 10:35am

Conflicts with Apple's own view of device

The Russian Federal Custom Service has chosen to reclassify the iPad as a computer, in theory conferring cheaper prices, reports say. The tablet was previously considered a navigation device, since 3G models include GPS functions. Wi-Fi models don't, although whether the FCS has considered that distinction is unknown.

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Chinese, more coming to Siri in March, source claims

02/08, 3:15pm

Could coincide with iPad refresh

A Chinese version of Siri will launch next month, claims DoNews. The website quotes an Apple engineer said to be working on the project, who adds that the technology is already in internal testing, and will moreover be able to process information and navigation requests, something only US Siri users currently enjoy. General language support has so far been restricted to three different English accents, as well as French and German.

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iPhone 4S expands to over 20 more countries

12/16, 11:45am

Brazil, Russia, South Africa among major regions

The iPhone 4S is now available in over 20 more countries, checks show. A list includes Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. The expansion coincides with expansions of the iTunes Store and iTunes Match.

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Brazil, Russia join list of Dec. 16th iPhone 4S launches

12/02, 12:15pm

Taiwan, Malaysia, others cited as launch countries

Brazil and Russia have officially entered the ranks of countries getting the iPhone 4S on December 16th. In Brazil, the local division of carrier Claro has put up a marketing page singling out the date. Some local shops have reportedly been selling the 4S since last week, but unofficially and at extremely high prices, approaching $2,000 for a 16GB model.

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iPhone 4S specs show support for Russian GLONASS standard

10/19, 12:55pm

Russian GPS network just recently restored

The iPhone 4S supports a Russian version of GPS known as GLONASS, an update to Apple's specifications page shows. The country only just launched the last of 24 satellites needed for global GLONASS coverage at the beginning of October. GLONASS first became fully operational in 1995, but a funding crisis crippled the ability to keep working satellites in orbit. Improvement in the Russian economy since the 2000s and interest from ruler Vladimir Putin has allowed GLONASS to come back to life.

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iPhone 5 coming to Russia in November, say phone retailers

08/05, 10:40am

Carriers worried about countering gray market

The iPhone 5 may go on sale in Russia in November, says local publication RBC Daily. The information is reported to come from unspecified cellphone retailers. Regional cellphone operators, though, are said to be in negotiations with Apple about speeding up deliveries to the country, which like China has often received Apple products several months after their US debut.

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iPad 2 pegged for Russia, Brazil on Friday

05/25, 3:35pm

Joins other Apple launches in India, Ukraine

The iPad 2 will also launch in Russia and Brazil this coming Friday, reports say. While little information has emerged about Brazilian plans, Russian tablets will reportedly be sold at a variety of stores including MediaMarkt, Beliy Veter Cifrovoi, M.Video, ION, Technosila, Eldorado, z-Store and Re:Store. Re:Store’s PR director, Ludmila Semushina, says the chain expects the iPad 2 to sell "even faster" in Russia versus Germany, Denmark and Norway, where initial stock vanished within three days.

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Soviet-era films being sold illegally on iTunes, say firms

01/31, 11:45am

Pirates using apps to profit

A series of Soviet-era movies are being sold illegally on iTunes via the App Store, the BBC reports. These include titles like Assa, Gentlemen of Fortune, The Diamond Arm, Kin-dza-dza and Cheburashka. Despite being produced under communism, both Mosfilm and the Joint State Film Collection are asserting various copyrights. Mosfilm is said to be preparing a formal claim to submit to Apple, which insists it will act when it receives a complaint.

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Plastic Logic secures $150m funding for Russian facilities

01/17, 11:10pm

Company still working on new e-book reader

Plastic Logic has reportedly secured an additional $150 million in equity financing, in a new investment agreement with the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (Rusnano). Combined with $50 million in equity investment from Oak Investment Partners, the funding will help Plastic Logic establish its second factory in Zelenograd, Russia.

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Russian government plans switch to GNU/Linux software

12/27, 7:40pm

Move ordered by Vladimir Putin

The Russian government is planning to transition its computer infrastructure to take advantage of free and open-source software, such as Linux. The move, which was reportedly signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, will affect a wide range of agencies and other bodies that are directly controlled by the federal government.

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iPad comes to Russian retailers

11/10, 3:45pm

Country lacks official Apple sales

The iPad is now on sale in Russia, reports and Apple's website confirm. Sales are said to have begun at approximately 7PM local time through three chains: M.Video, Bely Veter and re:Store. Distribution is described as limited. M.Video, for instance, is only selling the tablet in four cities, including Moscow.

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev talks with Steve Jobs

06/24, 10:45am

Russian President tours Silicon valley

While browsing through Silicon Valley this week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made sure to spare a little time for Apple CEO Steve Jobs. In the picture below, the President can be seen walking through the offices with Jobs, and appear to be having a casual conversation. This was just one stop for the Russian President, as he also stopped by Twitter offices and tweeted out a picture with his new official English Twitter feed. Aside from that, Medvedev also spent some time with Cisco chief executive John Chamber and San Francisco Mayer Gavin Newsom.

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Macs enter crosshairs of Russian hacking group

09/28, 5:25pm

Part of criminal profit-making scheme

Macs are being deliberately targeted by a Russian hacking group, says Sophos security researcher Dmitry Samosseiko. The group is a subset of a larger criminal network known as the Partnerka, which normally turns a profit through spam promoting fake online drug vendors, and malware in the form of "scareware" anti-virus protection. The Partnerka have generally concentrated malware efforts on Windows users, who together represent the largest possible target.

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iPhone floundering in Russian market

07/31, 10:00am

Russian iPhone sales low

The iPhone 3G has been unsuccessful in the Russian market, says Fortune. Three major phone carriers began selling the device there six months ago. A deal with Apple required 3.5 million iPhones to be sold over a two- to three-year period; carriers and their retail partners, however, have only been able to sell 250,000 phones since the Russian release date.

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Low iPhone sales threaten Russian carriers

05/21, 3:30pm

Low Russian iPhone sales

Extremely low Russian iPhone sales may threaten the country's three biggest cellphone carriers, several regional reports suggest. MTS, Megafon and Vimpelkom all agreed to carry the iPhone in 2008, with the provision that each would sell a minimum quantity. MTS agreed to sell 1 million phones in three years, while Megafon agreed to the same amount in two years. Vimpelkom made the most dramatic pledge, hoping to sell at least 1.5 million phones in two years.

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Full iTunes Store en route to Russia for 2009?

10/06, 9:10am

Russian iTunes Store

At least some Russians could finally have normal access to the iTunes Store in 2009, reports say. While Macs, iPods and now iPhones are on sale in the country, Apple's online media storefront has been conspicuously absent, with the exception of the App Store. Music and/or video could be coming soon through an unusual deal with one of Russia's iPhone carriers, writes RBC Daily.

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Russian iPhone to go on sale October 3rd

09/26, 9:10am

Russian iPhone on Oct. 3rd

The iPhone should go on sale in Russia October 3rd, Reuters reports. Nadezhda Senyuk, a PR director for Russia's Tekhnosila retail chain, explains that several retailers should begin selling the iPhone overnight between October 2nd and 3rd. Two other retailers, Eldorado and M.video, have confirmed Senyuk's statements by issuing separate announcements of an October 3rd sell date. Eldorado says it expects total iPhone sales in the country to reach 150,000 for 2008, out of which Eldorado hopes to claim 15,000.

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Vimpelcom: unlocked iPhones due to Russian law

09/09, 12:40am

Unlocked Russian iPhones

Although pricing information was not mentioned, Russia-based Vimpelcom on Monday announced it would offer the iPhone with no subsidy, since Russian law dictates that locked phone are illegal. Reuters reveals that Vimpelcom CEO Alexander Izosimov confirmed the move at the Reuters Russia Investment Summit, continuing upon an official launch confirmation in late August. An estimated half-million unlocked iPhone handsets already see use by Russians.

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