Apple’s great friendship with the Russian government

Apple’s great friendship with the Russian government?

Apple has agreed to offer apps approved by the authorities there in the Russian Federation. From April 1, 2021, iOS users will have a choice of apps from Russian developers. They will be able to download them to their iPhones and iPads. The Silicon Valley giant in its plans to further expand the App Store within Russia, adding a new section dedicated to promoting Russian apps. The measures are the result of an amendment to the law on “consumer rights protection”. According to its wording, Russian software must be installed on all devices that are on sale from April this year.

Russian apps for Apple devices

Authorities in Moscow have enacted new legislation that is an amendment to an existing law on consumer protection. The law requires pre-installation of software on all devices sold in Russia – including desktops or Smart TVs. Software will have to include anti-virus, social networking and a range of apps designed to communicate with state agencies. The list of offered programs will also include applications of Mir Pay payment system and many others. The number of required programs varies depending on the type of device – for example, on a smartphone their number is 16. Mandatory items approved by the government include products such as Yandex, Mail.ru, Kaspersky Lab, Rostelecom, Channel One. Russian Ministry of Digitization assures that it does not aim to dominate the mobile app market. According to the authorities, there are quite a few interesting programs on the Russian mobile market and they should be made available to a wider audience.

When users first turn on a Silicon Valley device they will see a window asking them to install an app from a list approved by the government. You can also refuse to download software by unchecking it from the list. Apple has issued a statement that it offers Russian applications, stressing that it respects and complies with the national laws of the countries in which it provides services. The company also noted that the App Store is a safe and reliable place to find and download apps, and that these products are vetted and tested repeatedly for compliance with privacy, security and content standards.

Apple and legislation in Russia

Discussions on the amendment to the law were already underway in 2019. Silicon Valley analysts warned that such actions by the Russian government could lead to a review of Apple’s business model in Russia. During talks with officials, the giant warned that the new legislation could put iOS devices at risk, resulting in the company’s withdrawal from the Russian market. The company has come to an agreement with the authorities. This consensus led to the signing of an agreement with the government, which makes it mandatory for Apple to systemically install mobile applications proposed by the authorities of the Russian Federation. The corporation, after analyzing the new rules, decided to stay on the Russian market and succumb to Putin’s regime. The company has many loyal customers there who use the US giant’s services and products. Russia is admittedly a small market, but one that is growing steadily. Apple’s 2019 revenue was about $267.7 billion, where about $2.9 billion came from Russian Federation. By contrast, in January 2021, Apple was in third place in Russia (16% of the market) in terms of smartphone sales.

Apple the only opponent in Russia?

Manufacturers running on Google’s Android software see no problem with the new law. Huawei has long installed Russian apps on its smartphones, and even in larger quantities than required by the legislation. On the new Huawei P40 Pro we can find software for Gosuslug, Odnoklassniki, Vkontakte, Mail.ru, VTM Bank, Megafon, Tele2, Yandex, Zen. Apple is reluctant to succumb to oppressive laws, but respects them and follows national requirements. A similar situation occurred in the United Arab Emirates, where until 2018 the use of FaceTime service was restricted. Therefore, if your iPhone was activated in this country, you could not connect this service to it.

These actions show that global giants are forced to respect the laws of the country in which they provide their products and services. Even if they stand in opposition to brand beliefs and values. Apple was forced, among others, to modify the map of Crimea to show it as part of Russia. Presented during the Worldwide Developers Conference rainbow flag inspired theme in Apple Watch was intended to commemorate the actions of sexual minorities for their rights. In Russia, on the other hand, such a graphic design of watches is not available because it would violate the legislation on the basis of the law on “gay propaganda” of 2013.

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