When assembled journalists spotted Russian officials toting new Samsung tablets into a cabinet meeting, they could not help but ask why they had switched over from the iPads they were accustomed to using. The officials insisted it had little to do with rising Russo-American tensions, ditching the US brand in favor of a Korean one, and everything to do with device security.
Minister Nikolai Nikiforov explained that the new tablets were “specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information.” He denied that Russia was moving toward sanctions against American-based businesses after the reaction of the US and other countries to the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. Nikiforov admitted, however, that there was some concern over increased US spying in the wake of current events, and this could see Russia partner further with IT firms out of South Korea and China.
The decision by government clients to move away from Apple products stands starkly opposite to recent moves by consumer-oriented mobile operators in Russia. While the iPhone holds a relatively low market share in Russia compared to other parts of the world, Apple has been making progress. Earlier this year, Apple reached an agreement with Megafon, Russia’s second-largest mobile operator, to begin stocking the iPhone after a four-year hiatus. The deal followed a similar arrangement struck with Vimplecom in 2013.