20 November 2013, 11:06

Russia's Mail.Ru internet giant invades US

Russia's Mail.Ru internet giant invades US

Russia's Mail.ru Group made its first foray in the US market on Tuesday, launching three mobile applications.

The Russian Internet giant made its first foray into the US market today by launching My.Com, its new American subsidiary. My.com’s platform powers the mobile e-mail app myMail, a messaging app called myChat, and a gaming app called myGames.

"Globally, there are not too many countries where local players are winning the market, but in Russia we are more popular than Facebook or Google," CEO Dmitry Grishin said in an interview with VentureBeat. "Mail.Ru showed people that Russia has huge potential as an interesting market. We thought a lot about our next move, and realized to be successful globally, you need to compete with the best players, and the US market is the most competitive."

"Businesses in Russia and China are very focused on freemium models," says Grishin. "For example, if you look at the US, gaming business here are based on a subscription model. You pay per month–$20 for World Of Warcraft… companies like Electronic Arts still stick with this old model."

The company, which has opened an office in Mountain View, California, counts 100 million Russian-speaking users of its social networking, messaging and online game applications.

Mail.ru Group, which claims to run the world's fifth largest email platform in the world, is not offering an independent email product for the US Instead, myMail is a mobile application for iOS and Android that lets users manage other email accounts from services such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL.

Its myChat is a video and text messaging mobile application for iOS and Android, and myGames is a portfolio of games including Jungle Heat, Poker Arena, Lucky Fields and Evolution.

MyGames represents the first aspect of that strategy, with freemium titles already launched in the U.S. including the FarmVille-esque Lucky Fields and Jungle Heat, already a top game on Android. While wary of the precedent set by social gaming failure Zynga, Grishin is betting on a similar thesis that all games, not just those on your phone, will eventually be free-to-play with users paying for in-game additions. It’s Mail.Ru’s way of dipping its toe in the market, introducing titles as a primer for grander announcements to come, says the CEO.

Voice of Russia, VentureBeat, ITworld, forbes.com

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