Despite the current lack of a carrier agreement for Russia, The Moscow Times reports that comments made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggest that the iPhone 3G may still make its way to the country later this year. “We just didn’t have a chance to close [a deal] with Russia. And I think you’ll see [agreements] happen later this year,” Jobs said during an interview with CNBC last week. The report states that an estimated 300,000 first-generation iPhones are already in use in Russia. “About 20,000 iPhone handsets are brought into the country in suitcases every month,” Eldar Murtazin, editor of Moscow-based Mobile Research Group said. “The current model, which sells officially in six countries for a marked-up $399, currently sells for about $1,000 in Moscow.”

Russian carriers Mobile TeleSystems and MegaFon have confirmed that they held talks with Apple about the iPhone, but failed to reach an agreement. A separate report from Vedomosti suggested that the problem hinged on Apple’s insistance that the carriers buy the handsets wholesale, and that they pay Apple 10 percent on every iPhone sold, as well as 10 percent of the monthly revenue from iPhone subscribers. Yekaterina Osadchaya, spokeswoman for VimpelCom, the country’s second-largest operator, said that Apple’s new strategy of cheaper, subsidized phones and its abandonment of the revenue sharing business model would bring many Russian operators on board. “VimpelCom is looking at the possibility of holding talks with Apple about a distribution agreement for the iPhones,” Osadchaya said. “This is a very auspicious year for the handset in Russia because we are rolling out 3G technology in 20 cities this summer.”

Charles Starrett

Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.