BRICS should compete and share IT products

Nikolai Nikiforov. Source: Sergey Mikheev/RG

Nikolai Nikiforov. Source: Sergey Mikheev/RG

Russia supports heightened competition in the information technologies market, Nikolai Nikiforov, Minister of Communications and Mass Media, told reporters at the Open Innovations Forum.

European countries, as well as the BRICS, are constantly searching for new products and features. This should spur the export potential for developers, said Nikolai Nikiforov, Minister of Communications and Mass Media. Diversification and de-monopolization of the information technologies market is a must for consumers, Nikiforov said.

Nikiforov discussed development of the IT industry with reporters at a roundtable (RT) organized by Russia Beyond the Headlines – an international project of Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The RT, which also had editors of foreign publications from Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Serbia attending, was held on October 28 during the Open Innovations Forum. 

Intelligent exports have no need to lobby?

Russia is interested in exporting IT, Nikiforov said, noting the successes of companies such as ABBYY, Kaspersky Lab, and Yandex. There are other success stories as well, including how people in South Korea made a massive shift to the Russian service called Telegram, abandoning the country’s popular application Kakao Talk in 2014. Korean users became concerned after being told that the secret services were beginning to monitor Kakao Talk.

“We are not lobbying for the promotion of Russian companies in foreign markets,” said  Nikiforov. “This is a fair and honest competition.” He also noted that the Governments of all countries should be striving to diversify this market. “When there is a monopoly, like Google, it becomes an obstacle for innovative companies and technologies that simply cannot enter the market,” said the minister.

It is therefore necessary, he said, to fight against monopolies by increasing the number of universities, seed funds and start-ups. IT infrastructure is being created in different regions to facilitate development of start-ups. “What Russian inventors are missing is knowledge of running a business and understanding about foreign markets and the export potential of their products,” said Nikiforov.

He said fair an honest competition and cooperation is becoming stronger among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

“More and more Chinese companies are starting to supply equipment to the Russian telecommunications market,” said Nikiforov.

Where to store data?

He also commented on the need to store personal data of Russians, in Russia. A law to this effect came into force in September 2015.

“This is a security issue. Today, when the world is more dependent on mobile phones, we cannot afford to have personal data of Russians stored abroad,” he said. “We believe that Internet companies do not wish to intentionally do any harm, but too often private business becomes subject to pressure from the security services.”

The taxicab ordering service ‘Gett’ said in October that it had moved all servers with databases containing personal data of Russian Internet users, into Russia. This summer, Uber, eBay, Google, Viber Messenger, and other IT companies, announced their intentions to do the same.

Startups under pressure from monopolies

“Many countries are suffering from the pressure of monopolies, and are encouraging new providers to enter their markets,” Nikiforov said, talking about the opening of an office by the Russian search engine Yandex in Iran, on October 25. The company, however, has not confirmed the opening of an office in that country.

Yandex also has an office in China and partnership agreements with mobile advertising networks in Brazil and Mexico. Its first foray in the international market was Turkey in 2011.

Yandex is a leader in the Russian market, but the situation is complicated Google’s dominant position on the Android platform. The Federal Antimonopoly Service recently ordered the American company to remove violations of the ‘Law On Competition’.

Trying to stem its falling market share which, according to LiveInternet came down from 62.2% in September 2013, to 57.4% in September 2015, Yandex is working to develop partnerships with browser developers. Microsoft became a new partner in October. In the Windows 10 operating system, Yandex will become the main search engine in key markets for Russia, the CIS countries and Turkey.

For Microsoft, this is not the first such agreement. It reached an agreement in September with the largest Chinese search engine, which is now the home page of the Microsoft Edge Browser on Windows 10 in China.

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