Yandex claims Google is ‘shutting out rivals’

30/04/2012

The co-founder of Russia's Yandex search engine has claimed Google is 'semi-open', criticising its Android smartphone platform and Chrome web browser. Speaking to the Guardian Ilya Segalovich Yandex co-founder described Android, as a "strange combination of openness and not openness" and its Chrome web browser as anti-competitive.

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Segalovich comments come in response to quotes from Google Co-founder Sergey Brin, about threats to the open internet.

Segalovich, chief technology officer of the Russian internet company, said that Brin should explain Google's "semi-open" approach to search competitors before accusing others of endangering the unfettered internet.

Brin told the Guardian that the future of the open internet was under threat from a coalition of governments, but also from private companies, naming Facebook and Apple.

Google and Yandex are direct competitors on the Russian market, with 62 and 25 per cent of the market share respectively.

"You cannot contribute to [Android], it's semi-open source…If you download an application it does not work if it's not Android marketplace. So that's an interesting question," Segalovich pointed out.

He said BlackBerry is trying to use Android, but it will not work properly. Also, the Google-developed Chrome internet browser uses Google search engine on default. It violates fair competition, Segalovich believes, as a user is not suggested a choice of search engines like Yahoo, Bing and Yandex.

"That is a part of the open and closed issue, in my head. If you own the browser, the browser is the platform then the search is yours. It is the same question … it should be addressed to Sergey [Brin] himself…It's a little wider than he described it,” Segalovich said.

"Things are definitely going where more and more control is in the hands of platform providers. It's interesting that it's not only mobile, but it's also about browsers," Segalovich said.

The Russian IT specialist does not believe in the Apple business model because it creates a "closed ecosystem".“

The news comes as it was revealed that the European Commission could as early as this week launch legal action against Google over claims that it had demoted competitors in search rankings.

The search giant could also face legal action in the US, with the Federal Trade Commission having last week appointed an outside attorney for only the second time in a decade, suggesting charges could be imminent. Google denies breaking anti-trust laws.

Yandex posted its financial results last week, showing a 51% jump of its net profit to $42 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Despite significant growth, the company’s result was below analyst expectations of $47.7 million. Yandex is in a head to head with Google in the Russian market.

Yandex reported its revenue increased by 51% to $200.3 million compared to the same period last year, while its operating profit grew 23% to $53.2 million. The company’s EBITDA increased by 38% to $81.0 million.

The first quarter was challenging for the company as it launched Yandex Navigator for iOS and Android and Yandex.Shell for Android.

Yandex also saw the number of visitors from Turkey double to 390,000 by March. The company entered the Turkish market at the end of 2011 and considers it a prototype for its new business model.

Meanwhile Yandex’s share of the Russian Internet market decreased to 59.4% from 60.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011 amid tightening competition with Google which also provides social network service. Mr Volozh says, Yandex doesn’t plan to launch its own social network, but will focus on its core search product, emphasizing the integration of social media.

Yandex is also going to develop its English language search engine as well as cloud technologies.

Read the full Guardian interveiw here

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