Last month, as the ruble began to drop in value, Apple upped the price of the iPhone 6 in its Russian web store by 25%. Today, amid mounting economic panic in Russia and beyond as the ruble enters a full-on free fall, the Cupertino, California-based company announced that it has closed the online store, its primary interface with Russian consumers.
The official company line is that the Russian web store is “currently unavailable while we review pricing,” according to spokesman Alan Hely, who wrote as much in a statement. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience,” he said.
Chaos swept Russia this morning following the central bank’s desperate attempt to stabilize the ruble by increasing interest rates in the wee hours of the night. While American shoppers were still recovering from Black Friday store runs, Russian shoppers raided big-ticket items at appliance stores, hoping to store their wealth in high-value technology products rather than in paper currency.
Western sanctions and low oil prices are finally having an effect on the Russian economy, with analysts now expecting the country to fall into recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth) next year. That prospect has markets around the world bracing for major losses: In addition to lower earnings for retailers like Apple, which have looked to Russia as a source of growth, banks may take a hit, thanks to the $160 billion in foreign loans that Russian companies are scheduled to repay between now and the end of next year.