Exploring Partnership with Yandex
October 15, 2008 12 Comments
Since before Firefox 1, search has been built into the browser because it makes the user experience better. It *also* provides economic benefits, of course, but that’s not the reason that it was included.
In most places in the world, Google is our default search engine –the one that shows up in the search box in a default installation– and our community of users and localizers generally want that to be the case. When we think about which services to build into the browser, and partnerships as a whole, the first goal is to make sure it advances the principles of the Mozilla mission (more fully described in the Mozilla Manifesto). To me this means it has to be both consistent with the values of the project and be additive, whether to the user experience or to promoting the goals of the mission. This is the first filter and gating to moving forward whether its a formal or informal relationship. After that, we think about distribution – getting the Mozilla goodness to more human beings. Once those make sense, we can look for ways the partnership can contribute to the sustainability of the project in a manner that’s consistent with our values.
In Russia, there’s an interesting situation, though: our localizers have been suggesting Yandex as the default search provider for some time. See bug 348096. The key user benefit offered by Yandex for Russian language users is that they have focused on linguistic characteristics of Cyrillic and on Russian content to create relevant search results. The Russian user base obviously likes them a lot as well. LiveInternet reports Yandex as having 55% of the Russian search market. Yandex also shares the first and second place for the most trafficked web property in Russia.
In June, they built a “Yandex-flavored” version of Firefox that they distribute themselves, and it’s had a big impact. Since then, users of the Yandex version of Firefox have grown to 300K+. To date, this represents approximately 1/3 of the total Firefox Russian language user base.
This presents a unique opportunity. It’s one of the rare settings in which an indigenous search engine tuned to a particular language has turned out to be wildly popular, and where the local Mozilla community has consistently made strong, data-based recommendations for a solution unique to the Russian language. The popularity of Yandex suggests that a number of Russian speakers may be eager to see Yandex as the default. (Other search engines will of course be provided, as has always been the case with Firefox.)
Given the input of the localization teams, demonstrated user preference, and the existing base of Firefox users, we’re evaluating making Yandex the default search provider for Russian language builds. We’re very interested in broader community feedback to ensure we’ve considered all of the issues.