Yandex is the leading (and the fastest-growing) search engine in Russia and several other eastern European countries. The company is focused on the Russian-speaking audience in countries like Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, but its presence in Russia is by far the strongest. According to Liveinternet, in June 2010 Yandex accounted for 64,6% of Russia’s search traffic, 25,1% in Ukraine, 24,6% in Kazakhstan, and 34,5% in Belarus. As for Yandex Maps, the desktop [browser] version attracts over 9 million monthly users (source TNS – May 2010) with 93% in Russia and 5% in Ukraine, with other countries accounting for less than 1% [correlates to the coverage in those areas, see below]. The mobile version attracts about 1 million monthly visitors with a whopping 52% usage coming from Moscow (40%) and St. Petersburg (12%) (source Gallup). To put those numbers into perspective, Yandex Maps is the biggest mapping service in Runet, and according to Comscore, 40% bigger than Google and 3,5 times bigger than Mail.ru Maps.
Although Yandex Search has expanded globally, its mapping service is still narrowly focused on Russia and Ukraine with 133 and 36 large cities mapped (building-level detail) respectively. Up until recently the company relied heavily on third-party providers for its map data, but in June it acquired one of its biggest data suppliers, GIS-Technologies, to bring the data piece in-house. Right around the same time, the service to collect user generated map data, People’s Map, was launched. This strategy is similar to Google (Map Maker) and MapQuest (OpenStreetMap) where the commercially-supplied map data is intermixed with user-generated content.
I am genuinely impressed with Yandex Maps and the progress they’ve made so far. It is clear that the company sees geo as a long-term opportunity and invests substantially to build out its mapping platform. Obviously they are doing something right to maintain a solid lead over Google in Russia. I am curious to see whether maps will follow Yandex Search to the global market and what that would look like.
p.s. Huge thanks to Anna Lamtyugina for the info!