Russia has been a slow adopter of mobile Internet and smartphones comparing to its European neighbors. Just two years ago, not more than 1% of Russians used mobile Internet. Today the figure is nearing 25%.
During the last couple of years the picture has changed dramatically. Mobile Internet usage grew by 50% during 2011, and by another 50% during 2012. By the end of 2012, 36 million Russian people used mobile Internet.
Google says that over 20% of all Russian searches are made from mobile devices, which is, for example, more than in France.
Smartphones in Russia
Russians are actively adopting the smartphone technology. According to J’son & Partners Consulting [in Russian] 3.6 million smartphones were sold in Russia in Q2 of 2012 alone, which is 40% of all mobile phones sold in the country.
These numbers do not include devices imported for private use or illegally, which are plenty in the market due to high local prices on high-end devices like iPhone.
Google Russia, TNS and a few other companies conducted an extensive research [in Russian] of mobile usage in 45 countries, including Russia. According to the data collected in the research, 36% of Russian respondents had a smartphone, which is 50% more than last year. The amount of respondents, who claimed to own a tablet, increased from 6 % to 14% year to year.
Half of the respondents use Internet on their smartphones daily. 54% of them use mobile search. 78% of them mentioned that they would love if all websites had mobile friendly versions.
Leading mobile OS in Russia
When it comes to mobile platforms, just like a year ago, Android is the most common OS in Russia and its market share keeps growing. According to J’son & Partners Consulting, the market share of Android in Russia is as high as 77% at the moment.
Effect of smartphones and tablets on Russian e-commerce
While the growth figures are impressive, mobile sales are not yet there.
TNS in their research, conducted earlier this year, discovered that most people in Russia use their smartphones for social networking, messaging and search.
Smartphones were used for buying or ordering products online by about 10-15% of the respondents, although almost 40% of them admitted that they research information about products using their smartphones, before buying the products offline.
These numbers can, of course, vary from segment to segment. According to Peter Prabhu, whom I interviewed earlier this summer, only 1% of all online sales for fashion goods are done via mobile devices, although he imagines the number should be higher for standardized products like books and groceries.
Analysts expect that the amount of smartphones sold in Russian in 2013 will increase by 29% comparing to 2012, and by 40% for tablets. This means that although mobile e-commerce in Russia is still on a very early stage of its development, mobile experience is becoming more important year over year. Even though mobile-optimized website might not drive a lot of direct sales, it will certainly be a point of interaction with at least 20% of your potential customers, who are likely to buy from you later down the line.