Yandex, the biggest search engine in Russia and the biggest web company in the country, has announced a rather big move, it is now becoming the default search engine on Windows Phone devices selling in Russia.It's a big win and it's very interesting that Microsoft would allow this, after all, it's firing on all cylinders trying to push Bing to the masses.
But there are a couple of factors that come in to play that are particular to the market. For one, Bing is virtually non-existent on the Russian search market, with a market share of below one percent.
At the same time, Windows Phone is struggling to gain any market share anywhere in the world, including Russia.
Having Yandex as the default search engine means that users will be pleased to have their first choice already installed and it also means that Microsoft gets to make some money from searches coming from its phones.
"Windows Phone is a new operating system with great potential. It is bound to catch attention in Russia. It's good to know that the Windows Phone users in this country will have familiar Yandex search on their new devices," Tigran Khudaverdyan, Head of Web Portal and Mobile Services at Yandex, said.
Yandex already enjoys a huge chunk of the Russian search market, about the same as Google enjoys in the US. It's also the leading search engine in other Russian-speaking countries. What's more, it recently launched in Turkey, offering a completely localized version there.
But, as anywhere else, the mobile web is becoming increasingly popular in Russia. Google, which owns about one quarter of the search market here, is the default search engine on Android devices.
As people get accustomed to using Google on their phones, they may start using it at home. And even if they don't, mobile search and the ad revenue it generates will only become more important in time. Windows Phone may not be Android, in terms of market share, but it's something.