iPhone 4S supports Russias Glonass navigation system

iPhone 4S supports Russia's Glonass global navigation system, according to specifications for the new handset, an addition by the U.S. technology company that could prompt rival smart-phone manufacturers to follow suit. Glonass is the Russian answer to the GPS navigation system, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is tipped to win the country's upcoming presidential election, has thrown his support behind the technology. In July, Putin said he supported the possibility of a ban on mobile devices that lack Glonass chipsets, in order to protect Russia's national interests.

The latest iPhone model was launched in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Japan last week, and is set to hit Russian stores later this year according to some experts.

That the handset features the chip that supports Glonass is an indicator of a new trend, said Vladimir Karpenko of market research firm J'son & Partners Consulting. Major chip makers including Qualcomm Inc., which makes chipsets used in the iPhone 4S, as well as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Texas Instruments Inc. last year said they would made chipsets that support Glonass across the globe, not just in Russia. This means all phones set for launch late this year and beyond will support Glonass, Karpenko said.

The reason behind this move to support Glonass is that chipset makers have started to struggle to come up with new value-adding features for their chips. Glonass provides one such opportunity, Karpenko said.

Only two handsets that support GPS are sold in Russia: Mobile TeleSystems'(MBT) 945 Glonass, sold for RUB10,990 ($352) and Samsung's Omnia W.

A spokeswoman for Mobile TeleSystems said Thursday that its Glonass handset had sold out and the company is negotiating opportunities to expand its range of Glonass phones with vendors.





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