Apple has stopped all online sales in Russia, primarily due to the extreme fluctuations in the value of the ruble, which is the country’s official currency.
“Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing. We apologize to customers for any inconvenience,” said Apple spokesman Alan Hely.
Bloomberg said that the ruble dropped by 19 per cent, “with a surprise interest-rate increase failing to stem a run on the currency.” In fact, the ruble briefly sank to 80 per dollar at one point during the day.
The White House said that it does not plan to let up sanctions that are affecting the instability of the ruble, and it intends to continue squeezing the Russian economy in an attempt to get President Vladimir Putin to pull back in Ukraine.
Bloomberg noted that the combination of a 49 per cent drop in oil prices and the punitive sanctions by the European Union and the US saw Russia dealing with its “worst economic crisis since the 1998 default.”
“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,” it added.
Fluctuations in the ruble turned Russia into one of Europe’s cheapest places to buy an iPhone. In 2013, Apple sold around 1.6 million iPhones in the country, which is slightly more than one per cent of the global total for the year.
Meanwhile, Apple’s online store is the firm’s primary means of reaching Russian customers because there are no brick-and-mortar Apple stores in the country. Nonetheless, some Russian carriers and retailers will still be able to sell Apple products in their own storefronts.