Yandex sharpens knives for international expansion, still seeking audience outside Russia
Yandex’s international ambitions, which began to surface publicly half a year ago, found new illustrations last week in informal statements made by the company’s CEO at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
“Our technical team has successfully tested technologies that will allow us to index several tens of billions of pages,” said Arkady Volozh, who openly compared this capacity “to that of Bing or Google.”
Previously, the Russian search engine could index no more than four billion pages, Volozh recalled.
This new capacity will be applied to the local versions of Yandex in Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and Turkey in the next few months. However, Yandex’s potential plans for international expansion will largely depend on the first results of its Turkish version, which launched last September. These results will be analyzed later this year, the company’s co-founder added.
According to German Klimenko, general manager of the web statistics service LiveInternet, Yandex has failed so far to get strong traction in Turkey, reaching a mere 0.6% of the local search market. Even more worrying, as Klimenko told RBC Daily, is Yandex’s failure to assert its leadership in countries where Russian is spoken by an important part of the population. Yandex’s market share reaches only 28% in Uzbekistan, 30% in Ukraine, 40% in Belorussia – and just 6% in Israel, which hosts an important Russian diaspora – compared to over 60% in Russia, Klimenko noted.
As global as Google, better than Apple
Volozh also announced at the forum the extension of Yandex’s satellite-based online mapping service to global dimensions, paralleling those of of Google and Bing. Yandex Maps will make use of the Navteq technology for a picture definition “exceeding that of Apple now,” Volozh said in an exchange with Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Yandex’s mapping service will cover America and some other regions “in the nearest future” and offer full global coverage in a matter of months, Volozh stated. But the maps will be made accessible to users only in stages.