I have developed an interest in Russia through my studies, work and traveling (BTW, I will be visiting Moscow again in January). Especially, since I started working in Hub Vilnius and meeting all those startupers and entrepreneurs - that certainly boosts one's ambitions to explore foreign markets :) Anyways, I have been reading and researching a lot lately about Russian Internet market, so here are some cool facts about good old Russia's Internets:

1. The biggest and the fastest - Russian Internet nowadays boasts the best Internet growth rates in Europe – comScore in its recently released “Overview of European Internet Usage in September 2011”[i] states that Russia overtook Germany as the market with highest unique visitors online. This constitutes to more than 43% of population of Russian Federation or 60 million people who have access to Internet (World Bank, 2010)[ii]. These numbers continue to grow and are even higher in major urban cities. Also, reducing prices due to competition and innovations in technology allow Russians to browse Internet faster than ever before. Once online, Russians on average spend almost the same time as Europeans.[iii] These days most Internet users connect via broadband (around 70%) or Wi-Fi (20%)[iv] which guarantees reliable and fast Internet connection. According to TNS conducted research – 90% of Internet users go online at home, 25% at work. 

[This and other diagrams are borrowed from various Yandex presentations. Thanks Yandex :) ]

2. Social networks addicts - Russians, according to statistics, spend significantly more time in social networks compared to an average worldwide user. Main networks include Classmates, My World and VKontakte – all part of Mail.ru group.[v] With an average of 9.8 hours per visitor during the month, Russians spent more than double the worldwide average of 4.5 hours per visitors on social networks, ranking it #1 among all countries in social networking engagement.[vi]

3. Local boys are in control - high standards of math, engineering and computer science education in Russia makes local IT-specialists[vii] well-known in a lot of countries[viii] and drives to technological parity between local and global market players[ix]. Partly because of this, all the top-ranked global leaders in any kind of Internet services have failed to be the first in the Russian Internet.[x] However, many of such local Internet leaders are backed by foreign investors and expertise.[xi] Finally, one more important point is that a lot of Russian Internet parameters are measured and there are much more stats open and available than in the Global Net.
4. Wanna play, learn Cyrillic - due to various historic events, social and political developments there is very small amount of English speakers in Russian. Thus, almost all of Russian sites are made only using Cyrillic alphabet, and most of the search queries are made in Russian using Cyrillic letters. 

5. Low online payments - because of the absence of countrywide-used Internet payment system in Russia, fear of credit card frauds over the Internet and low confidence in virtual payments at all, most of users prefer cash-on-delivery model when buying goods online.
6. Crappy logistics - is still one of the main obstacles for e-commerce development – one of the most common fear of Internet shoppers is delayed parcel shipment, receiving damaged goods or not receiving them at all.
7. Regulation "the Russian way" - regulations, censorship[xii] etc for Internet in Russia are still very few and loosely implemented.[xiii] This also may be the reason why hacking, copying and illegal content[xiv], piracy, fraud are common (sometimes may even be initiated by official institutions[xv])
8. Trend of advertising online – growing young market with insignificant regulation. Users are used to various very intense advertising approaches, spam, pop-ups etc., thus only small proportion of Internet users click on adds.[xvi] Still, online advertising shows the highest growth dynamics in Russian advertising market – plus 57% in 2011, compared with last year’s first half.[xvii]

9. Mobile is the future - thanks to the availability of mobile Internet service in rural areas, for example, Internet penetration has reached 31 percent. In cities with 100,000 inhabitants or more, we are talking about 42 percent Internet penetration.[xviii]
10. Urban cities in the lead - the penetration is close to maximum (on the same level as Western Europe cities) in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities with over a million population, but some of the country's regions almost don't have Internet connections.[xix] Thus, regions that still don't boast good penetration are likely to be the biggest contributors to this growth because development of loan financing might result in people buying more computers and laptops.[xx]

What did I miss? Seriously, feedback on this post is kind of a must if you read it all :) Or at least let me know what would be interesting for you to read about Russian Internet, cause I do have a lot more statistics, articles, sources to share etc. 

Have a good one,


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[xv] The Australian. “Putin's lot are thieves - we are the real power

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