When your product is a global phenomenon like Apple’s iPhone, you’re going to have to juggle international laws.
Back in 2019, Russia passed a new law which requires certain digital devices, such as smartphones, smart TV’s and computers to include certain government approved apps pre-installed. In a surprising turn from their previously stated corporate policy, Apple has agreed to comply with this law. Starting on April 1, all iPhones purchased in Russia will have a new screen during set up which offers a list of Russian apps that will be recommended for installation.
According to a report from Vedomosti, users will be able to opt-out of whichever apps they choose when they reach a set up screen. This is in contrast to Android phones in Russia, which will have all of the country-specific apps pre-installed. The apps in question are intended to improve the experience for Russian users, including certain web browsers, social networks, email apps, Mir Pay, and State Services, among others.
This change marks a major pivot in policy from Apple, which had been protective of the iPhone set up process in the past. However, international concerns continue to shape the digital market — such as EU anti-trust laws and the push to use state-run servers in China — causing Apple to make serious concessions to their business in order to comply. This move to change the iPhone’s set up process in Russia is another example of Apple cooperating with other countries in order to keep their product available in international markets.
The Russian government states that the new law is not intended to push any particular app; it will simply make it easier for Russian users to install the products that will help them the most. “The Ministry is not at all interested in seeing popular apps included in the mandatory pre-installation list take dominant positions. If alternatives emerge on the market, prove interesting to users and gain popularity quickly, they will be included in this selection and also offered for pre-installation,” a Russian official told Vedomosti.