Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Apple has ceased all online sales in Russia as the country has been unable to keep its currency from fluctuating dramatically. In the last month, Apple had already increased the price of its iPhone 6 in that country by 25 percent due to currency uncertainties.
“Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing,” Alan Hely, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company, told Bloomberg. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience.” It is uncertain when Apple will reinstate its operations in Russia.
Bloomberg noted that the Ruble sank 19 percent today, "with a surprise interest-rate increase failing to stem a run on the currency.” At one point during the day, the ruble sank to 80 on the dollar.
The White House also told Bloomberg that it will not let up on sanctions that are partly influencing the ruble's instability, and it said that it intends to keep squeezing the Russian economy in a bid to get Russian president Vladimir Putin to pull back from its outposts in Ukraine. "The combination of a 49 percent plunge in oil prices and punitive sanctions by the U.S. and European Union has Russia grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1998 default," Bloomberg wrote. "Russians are rushing to convert their money into dollars and buy durable goods amid concerns over hyperinflation and possible government currency controls and investors are withdrawing cash en masse."
For a while, fluctuations in the ruble made Russia one of the cheapest places in Europe to get an iPhone, and iPhone sales in that country doubled, earning Apple a neat $1 billion. Apple’s online store is the company’s primary vector for reaching customers, as it has no Apple stores in the country. Still, select Russian retailers and carriers will be able to sell Apple products out of their own storefronts.
This month hasn’t been great for tech giants in Russia. Just last week, Google pulled a team of 50 engineers out of the country, citing a new, restrictive data law that requires all data held on Russia citizens to be kept within the country. However, Google services for Russian citizens have not been halted.