Google to replace Yandex as default search engine on Mail.ru in 2010

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It’s all over the news in Russia this morning: Mail.ru, the leading Internet portal in the country, will reportedly be replacing Russian search king Yandex as its default search provider and hand over the keys to Google again.

While nothing has been official confirmed by either party yet, the information comes from solid sources, according to multiple publications.

Google used to be the default search provider for Mail.ru, which reaches about 40% of Russian speakers online, up until 2006. It was replaced by Yandex for a period of 3 years, and this agreement expires at the end of this year.

Apparently, Mail.ru decided to hook back up with Google after Mountain View made an offer it couldn’t refuse: powering search for them but leaving the Google branding at the door, something Yandex was not to keen about matching.

This is a smart move for Google to make: Mail.ru has an estimated 10% search share in Russia, behind Google with 23%, but both pale in comparison to leader Yandex, which takes up no less than 58% of the market. By replacing Yandex as default search engine on the Mail.ru portal, Google will grow its share to over one third of the market.

Google will also be powering the contextual advertising part of the equation for Mail.ru, in a country where its size is estimated at around $400 million.

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