The NY Times is carrying an article on Google’s lack of progress in Russia to date. Like the Chinese market, this is area which is dominated by the local players.
“Google promised they would destroy everything, but look at where they are,” said Irina Gofman, chief executive of Rambler Media, one of Google’s Internet portal and search service rivals in Russia. “They are not that big.”
The main engine in Russia is Yandex, which the NYTimes reports is visited by 64 percent of Internet users; Mail.ru, an e-mail service, came in second at 56 percent, and Rambler was third at 53 percent.
But even in its share of revenue from ads linked to searches, the lucrative Internet business model pioneered by Google, the company lags. Yandex controls 50 percent of the Russian market for such ads, according to analysts at ING, a Dutch bank. Rambler is second with 41 percent and all other companies, including Google, fight over the remaining 9 percent.
The main issue for Google, and the strength of the local players lies in their complex understanding of the language.
“Our understanding of Russian was not as good as we wanted it to be,” said Kannan Pashupathy, head of international engineering at Google. Google revamped its Russian site last week, Mr. Pashupathy said, improving its ability to deal with Russian, a complex language in which nouns may be one of three genders and be declined in up to six cases.
It’s also worth noting that Yandex in particular have been in overdrive these last few years to develop many of the services which Google have pioneered, such as Yandex Maps, Desktop search, Yandex Direct (contexual ad system), Yandex Money (PayPal type system) and a serious blogging/community (Web 2.0) and news platform.
However the resources at Google’s disposal give them more than a fighting chance to catch up, as Multilingual Search’s very own managing editor writes:
“Of course they can fix the problems,” said Andy Atkins-Krüger, managing director at Web Certain Europe, a firm in York, England, that specializes in organizing search-based marketing campaigns in multiple languages. “But Yandex and Rambler aren’t going to stand still.”