Last week, VimpelCom (VIP) became the last of the country’s three largest wireless carriers to drop the iPhone from its Beeline brand. In its place, Beeline is now promoting Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphones to customers, RethinkWireless notes.
Russia’s other two major wireless carriers, MTS (MBT) and MegaFon ditched the iPhone over the past year. MTS replaced the iPhone with smartphones running Microsoft‘s (MSFT) Windows OS. Together, the three largest wireless carriers cover about 80% of Russia’s 180 million mobile subscribers.
Russian operators complain that Apple’s contractual requirements make offering the iPhone too expensive a proposition. Russia bans carrier subsidies for smartphones and imposes high import taxes. Still, the iPhone remains a popular item, fetching as much as $3,500 on the black market.
Russians who wish to continue purchasing iPhones can still do so through Apple’s online store and through smaller mobile device vendors.
Shares of Apple slipped slightly in Wednesday pre-market trading.