Apple devices sold in Russia will come preinstalled with Russian-made software approved by the government starting next month, a report published Tuesday suggests.
This is in response to a law, coming into force April 1, designed to promote the domestic tech sector. It affects all smartphone manufacturers, not just Apple.
A report from the Russian language Vedomosti newspaper on March 16 cited a source in Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development and Communications as saying that customers will be able to choose from a selection of Russian developed apps that will be installed onto their devices.
These include the likes of Russia’s Mail.ru e-mail, the Kaspersky Lab antivirus program, the Odnoklassniki and VKontakte social networks, and the MIR payment system.
The bill was introduced back in 2019, and passed in 2020. According to a 2020 report by the BBC, one of the bill’s co-authors, Oleg Nikolayev, said that: “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.”
The challenge of doing business internationally
The rules were supposed to come into place last summer. However, they were then pushed back to 2021, possibly as a result of coronavirus.
Critics of the law have raised concerns about possible surveillance through the apps. It could also potentially erect barriers when it comes to international tech companies doing business in Russia.
From Apple’s perspective, this is just one of the many challenges doing business around the world. Apple frequently has to make local concessions to abide by different laws. For instance, in France, the iPhone continues to ship with a wall charger and earbuds. In China, Apple stores iCloud data on local servers and bans multiple apps from the App Store. In India, Apple backed down on allowing a government “Do Not Disturb” app into the App Store against its wishes. And so on.
Do you live in Russia? Can you provide any more information about the logistics of this new pre-installation of certain apps? Let us know in the comments below.