Yandex in Turkey: the culture shock

Thu 3 May 2012 14:20, Tamara Yadvichuk

Yandex in Turkey: the culture shock

Yandex launched its Turkish domain more than 8 moths ago, but so far it has less than 1% of the country’s market which is greatly dominated by Google. Nevertheless, the Russian search engine aims for 20% market share as the ‘second player’ after Google, CTO of Yandex Ilya Segalovich said in an interview. 

Yandex sees great opportunities and lots of potential users in Turkey, but a new market always means new challenges, and the Russian search giant has already faced a few.

First of all, Turkey is the first country for Yandex where Russian is not a widely-spoken language. Yandex search was initially built for the Russian language, so the technology behind it had to be adjusted to work in Turkish. Besides that, the company had to accept the fact that their Turkish employees do not speak Russian – in countries like Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan where most of the population speaks Russian, this was never a problem.

Another trouble occurred when Yandex launched Yandex.Maps for Turkish cities. Like Google, Yandex has a street view in its maps. According to the law, all the faces and number plates which appear in this view must be blurred. This is done automatically using a complicated face-recognition technology which required three months of work and lots of effort, Mr. Segalovich says. What Yandex didn’t take into account is that there is another law in Turkey which among other things prohibits distorting the face of Atatürk, the founding father of modern Turkey, who happens to appear on numerous banners and posters in Turkish cities. Long story short, now every time there is a complaint about the blurring of Atatürk‘s face in the street view, Yandex has to fix the problem manually.

So, new market – new challenges… It’s hard to imagine all kinds of different things that might go wrong when entering a new market with another culture, different laws and customs. In my future articles I’ll keep you posted on how Yandex handles this task.

Poster of Atatürk on a buildingPhoto by Dave Ramzy

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