Inside Business

The iPhone is on mute in Russia, where Apple has had to take sides

The tech giant has paused sales of its product, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in a unilateral move that is notable for a company that has largely sought to avoid political controversy, writes James Moore

Wednesday 02 March 2022 21:30
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<p>The relative scarcity of the iPhone – one of the world’s favourite consumer products – will serve to emphasise the country’s isolation</p>

The relative scarcity of the iPhone – one of the world’s favourite consumer products – will serve to emphasise the country’s isolation

So it’s dasvidaniya to the iPhone and other Apple products in Russia. At least for now. The group has announced a “pause” to its sales in the country. The App Store will remain open, but Russia Today and Sputnik News have been removed from it outside of Russia. Apple Pay has been limited in the country. “Precautionary measures” have been taken with regard to Apple Maps in Ukraine.

The company has also expressed “deep concern” about the “Russian invasion”. Note the language there. It doesn’t say the “conflict”, or the “situation”, or even the “violence” in Ukraine. It explicitly uses the term “Russian invasion”, which Russia still angrily refuses to characterise its actions as, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Big tech in general has been taking heat over its response to the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine.

But Meta (Facebook), and especially Twitter, have sufficiently irked the Kremlin that their services have been restricted. They, and Google, had also only partially complied with Russia’s new media law, prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Apple, by contrast, was reportedly the first of the 13 foreign tech companies coming under its scope to open a local office as demanded. The step it has taken here – notably with its iconic device – is striking, and all the more so given Apple’s aversion to getting involved in political entanglements that don’t directly involve its business interests.

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