A new law passed by Russia's lower house of parliament last week prevents the sale of certain devices that do not have Russian software pre-installed. According to the BBC, the law will take effect next July; before that happens, a list of affected gadgets and the specific software that needs to be installed on these devices will be announced by the Russian government. Naturally, this means that certain smartphones, including the Apple iPhone, might be banned from sale in the country next summer.
Oleg Nikolayev, one of the co-authors of the legislation, explained that many Russians don't know that there are domestic alternatives to the apps that are pre-loaded on phones imported into the country. Nikolayev said, "When we buy complex electronic devices, they already have individual applications, mostly Western ones, pre-installed on them. Naturally, when a person sees them... they might think that there are no domestic alternatives available. And if alongside pre-installed applications, we will also offer the Russian ones to users, then they will have a right to choose."
Similarly, as part of a settlement that Google reached with the EU (that included a $5 billion fine), the first time that a European Android user opens the Google Play Store he is greeted with a couple of pages offering alternative search engines and browsers. Last year, Google was found by the EU to have forced Android phone manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Chrome and some users in the EU might not realize that other options are available.
The new Russian law has not been universally welcomed in Russia where some are concerned that the software will be used to spy on consumers. And The Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment (RATEK) said that it might not be possible to pre-load Russian developed software on all devices. As a result, some global manufacturers could be forced to exit the Russian market. Considering that Apple's mobile iOS operating system is a closed system, it isn't likely that the iPhone would be offered with unknown Russian software pre-loaded.
Data from Statcounter shows that as of last month, Samsung had the largest smartphone market share in Russia with 22.04%. Huawei was next with a 15.99% slice of the Russian smartphone pie followed by Apple. The iPhone had a market share of 15.83% in Russia during October.