Almost a year after it registered a new distribution arm in the country, Apple has opened an online store in Russia. Customers in Moscow and St Petersburg are now able to order iPhones, iPads, and Macs directly via the company's website for the first time — products were previously only available via third-party resellers — signalling that Apple could be preparing to open its first brick and mortar stores in the country.

Apple registered 'Apple Rus' in August last year

Apple began making preparations for its launch in August 2012, registering “Apple Rus,” a distribution arm reportedly headed by Vitaly Morozko — Apple's local legal advisor who now serves as director general. The company has an office presence in Russia, specializing in marketing and digital sales, but shipments were handled by distribution partners for more than 15 years.

Apple has rapidly expanded its presence in emerging markets as growth of smartphone sales begins to slow in western markets, previously earmarking China as one of its most important regions. With international sales now exceeding sales in the US, Apple will look to ensure first-time customers in Russia return to buy phones, computers, and media directly from its online store. Should it open new brick and mortar stores in the country, Apple will operate stores in 14 regional markets, adding to its 400 existing retail locations worldwide. We have contacted Apple for clarification on its shipment plans and will update the post accordingly.