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Russia’s answer to Twitter is reportedly attracting users in their thousands. Owned by the Mail.ru group, Futubura attracted some 17 000 users within 24 hours of launching, Russian state news agency Ria Novosti reported.
When the public beta launch of Futubura was announced, Mail.ru CEO Dmitry Grishin released a statement saying: “We are excited by the opportunity facing Futubra as microblogging is a fast growing segment which fits well into the Mail.Ru Group vision of the growth in internet communications. Futubra demonstrates Mail.Ru Group’s ongoing commitment to internet communication platforms, innovation and mobile applications. The focus in the near term will be product development and the building of new online communities.”
Emerging markets media giant Naspers has a 30% plus stake in the Mail.ru group, formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies. This investment gave it an indirect stake in other social giants such as Zynga and Facebook.
With its latest venture, it seems that the Mail.ru group is looking to emulate the success of Twitter and China’s weibos.
The Russian company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and had a $1-billion debut — the second largest Initial Public Offering (IPO) in Russian history.
In late 2011, Chinese state officials reported that some 300-million of the country’s citizens had weibo accounts. The two biggest weibos are those owned by the Sina and Tencent corporations.
Until recently local Russian social networks were far more popular than those originating from the West. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have recently seen large-scale growth in Russia.
While Russia still only ranks 29th in Social Bakers’ Facebook statistics by country, the social network’s user base in the country has grown by nearly eight percent in the past three months.
This rise coincided with massive demonstrations in the wake of a widely disputed election. Facebook was reportedly used as a tool for organising a number of these protests.
The number of Russian Twitter users, meanwhile, reportedly doubled in the last four months of 2011.
All of this suggest that the Mail.ru group will have to be aggressive in leveraging Futubura if it is to capitalise on the social network’s early growth.
Ria Novosti reports that Mail.ru will soon provide mobile Futubura clients “for Android, iOS, Windows Phone 7 and Symbian”.