Russia appears to be stepping up its censorship game, this time through the reported creation of a government-controlled search engine called Sputnik.
Russian newspaper Vedomosti claims that the state-owned telecommunications agency Rostelecom is behind the development of Sputnik, which is due to compete with Yandex, Google, and mail.ru, currently the country’s respective frontrunners in search.
Despite the $20 million that’s purportedly been invested in the project so far and the alleged attempts to poach employees from rival search engines, it’s unlikely that Sputnik will find much market success upon its expected 2014 launch.
"Even if the launch of Sputnik is well-executed, we do not expect it could significantly eat into the market shares of Yandex or Google," wrote analysts from Merrill Lynch.
"Search engines are a completely different area from the telecoms service business in which Rostelecom is involved," agreed VTB analyst Ivan Kim. "With its lack of expertise, the venture is unlikely to meet with success."