Russian Tech Giants Aim to Replicate Success Abroad

The gleaming, glass-fronted building towers over its more traditional neighbours in this quiet street in central Moscow.

But it is not just Yandex’s headquarters that stand out.

Although the website is little known outside Russia, within the country’s borders it is a giant. It has become the nation’s most popular search engine, leaving Google trailing with just a quarter of the local market.

It is a similar picture for social networks. Three Russian services – VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and Moi Mir are favourites, presenting Facebook with an uphill struggle.

And when Russians shop online, they opt for home-grown e-commerce site Ozon. Amazon has virtually no presence in the country and eBay recently hired an ex-Ozon manager to improve its standing.

But hits at home have not sated the firms’ thirst for success, and they aim to follow anti-virus maker Kaspersky Lab in achieving wider recognition.

Better product?

How have they made such an impression on home markets? Unlike in China, there is no firewall to steer users towards domestic products rather than deeper-pocketed international alternatives.

Yandex suggests there are three simple reasons for its popularity: it is a Russian-made service, it got there first, and it has a superior product.

“When Western search engines appeared, most of them couldn’t search in Russian,” explains chief technical officer Ilya Segalovich.

In the case of St Petersburg-based VKontakte, other factors may be at play.

The social network has 40 million users in Russia compared with Facebook’s 14 million, according to digital media analytics company Comscore.

This may have something to do with its free peer-to-peer file-sharing service, which has proven wildly popular with members wanting to swap MP3 files, but has prompted piracy complaints from the music industry.

In May, Russia’s appeal court ruled the site was liable for copyright infringement after a challenge by a subsidiary of EMI, and fined it 210,000 roubles ($6,650; £4,250).

Source: Russoft
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