The Moscow Times reports that, contrary to the absurd propaganda campaign being conducted by the Kremlin regarding Russia's oil wealth, nothing has changed for the ordinary Russian on the street. Already the cell phone market has become saturated and begun to dry up:
Mobile phone sales fell by 20 percent to 13.51 million handsets in the first six months of the year compared to the first half of 2005, Yevroset electronics retailer said Tuesday.
The ongoing crackdown on illegal imports has pushed up phone prices, contributing to a drop in sales, market watchers said. They predicted that sales would remain sluggish through the end of this year.
Phone retail prices climbed 20 percent to a six-month average of $190 per handset, Yevroset said in a statement. Since the volume of handset sales dropped by the amount of the price hike, the retailer said, total sales remained at $2.59 billion in the first half of 2006, the same as in the first half of last year.
An especially bitter winter contributed to the slowdown in sales during the first couple of months of this year, when "sub-zero temperatures hurt all retailers," said Mikhail Alekseyev, a telecoms analyst with AC&M Consulting.
Still, rising prices were the main culprit in the slowing handsets sales, said Eldar Murtazin, head of Mobile Research Group.
"I don't see any reasons for prices to drop in the near term," Murtazin said. The market is set to shrink by about 30 percent by the end of the year, he said, because people are buying new phones less often due to rising prices.
The number of handsets sold in the second quarter of the year dropped 21.9 percent compared to the second quarter of 2005, with the total sales volume shrinking 8.9 percent in dollar terms, Yevroset said.This helps to explain why, as the Moscow Times documents, Russia was utterly shut out at the G-8 meeting, humiliated and denied at every turn, because the G-8 members know full well that the idea of Russian economic potency is pure fiction:
No major breakthroughs were made. Talks on energy security, Russia's priority for the summit, went nowhere and took a backseat to international crises such as violence in the Middle East. U.S. President George W. Bush met the heads of leading nongovernmental organizations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel singled out NGOs as an issue that worried her. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife offered legal aid.