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Report: iPhones en route to Russia

Apple has reached a deal with the country's largest carrier, Mobile TeleSystems, that could put the iPhone on store shelves in October, according to Reuters.

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Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET, where he's worked since 2000. A born browser of dictionaries, he honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS, AI and 5G to James Bond, aircraft, astronauts, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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Russians may soon get their chance to queue up to buy the Apple iPhone. Legally, that is.

iPhone 3G
The iPhone 3G. Apple

Official sales of the iPhone are likely to start in October, with a deal having been reached between Apple and Mobile TeleSystems, Russia's largest carrier, according to the Reuters news agency, citing market sources. A second, carrier has also signed a framework agreement, and a third deal is in the offing, Reuters reported.

A mobile telecommunications analyst told Reuters that MTS aims to sell 1 million iPhones within two years, and that total sales by the top three carriers over that two-year period are expected to hit 3.5 million units.

The price to Russian consumers is expected to be 24,000 rubles, or about $990. That's far higher than the price in the U.S., but much less, Reuters said, than the price of unauthorized iPhones already being scooped up in Russia.

There are reportedly 600,000 unauthorized iPhones already in Russian hands.

When Apple announced the latest iPhone, the 3G, in June, CEO Steve Jobs set a goal of getting the device into 70 countries "over the next several months." But in the big map of the world on display during his keynote address at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, Russia was a large and conspicuous void--as was its sizable neighbor, China.

Also at WWDC in June, Jobs said he expected Apple to sell 10 million phones this year.