Yesterday morning Russian Internet press reported that Yandex and Skype signed an agreement and will begin promoting each others’ services in Russia.
Skype will offer everyone who downloads their PC client to install a browser extension Yandex Bar. Yandex Bar, in exchange, will display Skype account balance and provide an easy way to top up Skype account via Yandex Money. This looks like a good way for Yandex to attract more users and possibly regain the market share that they lost to Google last year. In 2011 Skype showed 40% increase in Russian user base ending the year with 22,4 million registered accounts.
So what does Skype get in return? From what I read today it is very unclear: Skype will be promoted on Yandex sites and properties (which is of course a lot of traffic), but it is not specified how.
Yesterday I read something, as I thought at first, totally ridiculous, but it seems to be happening for real. In Belarus from today it is forbidden to provide any kind of services or sell any kind of goods on the Internet from a website with any other top level domain than .BY.
Cnews.ru reports that according to the new law companies and individuals will be administratively punished for doing business with foreign sites. Even Internet cafes providing access to forbidden sites will be forced to pay fines. The fine for violating this law will be up to 30 “units”, which is currently 1,05 million Belarusian rubles, which is approximately 120 USD.
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:
In September 2011 Yandex processed over 3 billion search queries, reports comScore. This allowed Yandex to climb 2 positions up passing South Korean NHN Corporation (Naver) and eBay.
The leader is, obviously, Google with 118 billion queries (globally), followed by Chinese Baidu with 11 billion queries.
Mail.ru, the 3rd largest search engine in Russia after Yandex and Google.ru, with 7% market share, announced their plans to invest into developing their search technology. The company plans to double the amount of specialists developing their search engine.
In the past search on Mail.ru was powered by Yandex, but replaced by Google’s technology in 2010. At the same time, a part of queries in Mail.ru is processed by their own algorithm. According to Mail.ru CTO Vladimir Gabrielyan, this makes sence: Google’s engine is used for general queries, while Mail.ru can focus on improving, for example, local search.