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Will Apple sanction Russia? (Updated)

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With Russia’s attacks on Ukraine intensifying, I expect Apple will join the list of companies exiting the Russian Federation. Doing so reflects the company’s commitment to environmental, social and corporate responsibility.

Update: Since this article was posted, Apple has ceased selling products via its online store in Russia and published a statement (see below).

Will Apple leave Russia?

I’ve been thinking about the implications of Apple making such a move since Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov urged it to stop offering products and services in Russia. At first, I felt that doing so might deprive Russians of essential tools they could use to oppose their government. My thinking has moved on, though Apple will also have a duty of care to its Russian employees, who may find themselves exposed to reprisal if the company exits the market. I’m not going to dig too deeply into the politics of current events. Newsweek, Slate and others do a far better job of that, but I will try to explore what the significance might be.

First, what is Russia to Apple?

Russia is (or was) the world’s 11th-largest economy. As we know, Apple continues to seek out markets for future growth, and while the Russian market was small, it was generating business and Apple has very loyal customers there.

Apple’s Russia business has grown significantly in the last few years. Apple CFO Luca Maestri told us the company was “very pleased” with results there in Q3 21. The most recent data I’ve seen suggests Apple’s business in Russia generated around $2.5 billion in 2020, which is under 1% of Apple’s sales.

Apple probably makes more revenue selling Apple One subscriptions internationally. Given the cost of those sales, it’s unlikely they contribute a huge amount to company profit.

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