The market for tools designed to help make purchasing decisions via smartphones remains underdeveloped in Russia. But this situation could change if there is a surge in consumer take-up of mobile devices.
Interview with Anton Lebedev, co-founder of Wizee, creator of an application which provides consumers with information on local retail outlets and pricing.
L'Atelier: Would you say that the market for tools that aid purchasing decisions is mature in Russia?
Anton Lebedev: No, not at all. To be clear, our company is the market leader. Nevertheless we count a maximum of 35,000 members, out of a population of more than 100 million. As far as competitors are concerned, there are very few, and they are not very big. This situation is due to two major trends. The first is the lack of user equipment. Very few people own a smartphone. The other concern stems from the lack of commitment on the part of the major brands. If the market is to grow, supermarkets and retail chains must also make their products available on the new devices. But at the moment they are reluctant to sign this kind of agreement.
L'Atelier: Isn’t it likely then that the market will stagnate for a few more years?
Anton Lebedev: I don’t think so, for the simple reason that sales of smartphones are starting to grow quite substantially. Sales are forecast to reach 9 million units in 2012, compared with 3 million in 2011. Sales of Androids and iPhones alone are set to overtake Nokia, which has traditionally been the leader in the mobile market in Russia. Given the high-quality network infrastructure, there are no obstacles to growth in mobile communications activity, including of course m-commerce. Even more so since current users state that they’re extremely satisfied with our service.
L'Atelier: So what are the essential criteria for maintaining a top market position?
Anton Lebedev: The key to any company’s growth will be service quality. Generally speaking, we can make improvements to practically every service we offer. In fact we can still think of this market as a test market, an immature market. At the same time, there are some security issues linked to the transactions that are necessary for this type of activity, which haven’t yet been solved. Nobody doubts that these issues will be resolved, but for the moment it’s impossible to say precisely when.