|Russian Site Takes On Google Maps |
By Olga Razumovskaya
MOSCOW—Russia’s top search engine Yandex NV YNDX -0.49% has its plans to stay ahead of rival Google Inc. GOOG +0.19% in its core ex-Soviet markets all mapped out.
Yandex launched a revamped maps service Tuesday, improving their quality to street-level precision and introducing more frequent updates in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Yandex.Maps will also work to a higher level of accuracy than before in a total of 237 countries.
The service, which is already used by 16 million people daily, will come in handy for Russians who travel abroad frequently, the company said.
Yandex said it would like to compete with Google’s and Microsoft's MSFT -0.62% mapping services in the non-Russian speaking world, but remains focused on Russian-speaking countries.
“We would like to develop services that may open new markets for us,” said Andrei Strelkov who heads Yandex.Maps.
Analysts said Yandex would find it difficult to compete outside the Russian-speaking world. But the mapping service is a very important instrument of customer loyalty, which may also tap into Russian speakers living abroad, said Sergei Libin, an analyst for Raiffeisen Bank. The mapping service may be a better way to introduce the company’s brand abroad than its search engine, Mr. Libin said.
Google currently boasts over a billion monthly users of its mapping service across the world, while Yandex has over 32 million. Google is also making a push in Russia, introducing a new version of its maps for the country this year and updating its maps application for mobile devices.