The latest gossip in Russian Internet circles is that the next step for Yandex after their NASDAQ IPO, successful launch in Turkey and recent partnership with Czech leading search engine Seznam is to launch in Poland. Rumors say that Yandex has already hired a business developer in Poland, with a very impressive track record including companies like Dell and Apple.
Polish Internet audience is estimated to be around 40 million people, where Google holds 97% market share. Entering a market with such strong Google presence might sounds like a strange idea, especially given 2 facts from the recent past:
1. Yandex already made an attempt to enter Polish market back in 2001, but pulled off due to the crisis in .com industry as well as uncertain state of Polish economy.
2. The announcement of international expansion plans Yandex made in summer was very much about entering markets where Google does not have a strong dominant position. The first of these markets was Turkey. Yandex also mentioned Vietnam, Indonesia and Egypt.
So why Poland?
The rumors about Yandex planning an acquisition of Onet.pl (one of the biggest portals in Poland) were circulating in the tech press since summer 2011 (see, for example, Bloomberg report from July). Purchasing of the other major portal Wp.pl also gets mentioned here and there.
Both portals have look and feel of Yahoo!, i.e. publish a lot of categorized content and at the same time have search. Onet.pl search box is currently powered by Google; wp.pl has its own search engine.
In case of this purchase, Yandex will actually claim a big chunk of Polish market right away: