Technology: The Russians are Coming

This is about Runet, Russia’s technology scene and while, US technology giants like Facebook and Google do have a presence here, they have failed to make an impact or dominate like they have done in the other countries they have entered. Instead Russian companies rule across social networking, search, digital media and email services! In fact, news stop...Facebook is not the most popular social network in Russia. Instead, Russians flock to Mail.ru-owned MoiMir (MyWorld) or vKontakte. While, Russia’s most popular email service and portal is Mail.ru, which was thrust into the spotlight last year after it floated on the London stock exchange with an estimated valuation of six billion dollars.

Yandex another Russian company is the country’s most popular search engine, with 64 per cent market share, Google is second place. Yandex, like Google, has not just limited itself to providing fast and relevant search results. It also provides Yandex Maps, Yandex Money (an e-payments system) and Yandex Photos. It has also come up with digital services bespoke for Russia’s needs, such as a phone app which shows where the traffic jams are occurring throughout the very congested streets of Moscow. A similar pattern emerges with the blogs and digital media. SUP, a Russian online media company, is the parent of the country’s most popular sites: Gazeta.ru, which is Russia’s equivalent to The Huffington Post. While there’s Championat.ru, the country’s most popular sports news site and LiveJournal.com, a blogging network.

Arkady Volozh, CEO of Yandex’s thinks there are two reasons why Russian companies do better and says, “The language barrier is a big reason and lots of US companies are still playing catch up in this area. The other bigger reason is that Russian technology is just as good, if not better than a lot of similar US companies. Yandex has been able to keep ahead of Google because of the quality of its search and other key services. Russia, we have strong technological capabilities which shouldn’t be undermined.”

Russia is investing in its digital future and is currently building Skolkovo, a large technology park in Moscow's suburbs. It has the full backing of Russia’s President Medvedev. Moreover, Russian technology companies are not so enthusiastic to expand internationally right now, as with only a third of Russia’s huge population online, Russian technology chiefs can see the potential growth on home soil and are excited about the possibilities.

What is striking is how Russia’s developers look and learn from the rest of the world’s progress in areas like social networking and search; yet few technology companies in the US and Europe seem to be looking at or paying attention to the exciting innovations taking place across Runet right now...which has every reason to creep up on them...Yep the Russians are definitely coming!   

Photo Credit: Wikitravel