Google’s departure from Russia – a control shot in the head of the country’s technologies?

Over the past two months, the technology industry in Russia has undergone many changes. Large corporations, and in general the IT business, are leaving the country so rapidly that sometimes it seems that it is impossible, because even such pillars who have invested in our country more than in all the others combined are leaving. And one of the few on this list is a corporation of goodness – Google. I note right away that the article will be focused on technology and this part, the political side of the issue, will not be discussed. All data and assumptions are the author’s point of view and are aimed at discussing the picture that no one wants to describe yet.

Russia for Google or Google for Russia?

It just so happened that often foreign businesses in our country used it only as a sales platform, without investing in the development and localization of services. An example is Apple, which squeezed the market to the maximum, but did not bring new technologies to the country or did this “last”.

The Google model here was literally the opposite: the company brought and initiated the most advanced technologies to our country. What are we talking about?

Contactless payments in Russia

It was Google that was one of the first in our country in early 2017 to launch contactless payment for Android Pay (Google Pay) payments, available both on smartphones and on smart watches. Until 2021, Russia was one of 8 countries in the world (along with the US, UK, etc.) where this technology worked on smartwatches.

In mid-2021, Google pay was the first in the world (outside the US) to receive support for emulating Troika transport cards and writing them to the phone (more details here).

Google Assistant in Russian

In 2018, the company launched a full-fledged voice assistant in Russian, which is still a leader in terms of functionality and capabilities, despite all attempts to contain it in Russia (more on that below). Solutions from Apple and Yandex even now have not reached a close level. And all this is a very expensive pleasure, because the Russian language is very difficult, this can be seen in the example of Samsung, which, despite all the promises, could not even launch the beta version of its Bixby assistant in our country.

Google Store-iron for Russia, which did not happen.

At the beginning of 2018, the company saw trends in our market towards the potential growth of smart speakers and planned to launch a full-fledged store with speakers, Pixel smartphones and Google Nest smart home kit in March.


The speaker assistant was ready for such an event and even then worked better than all the current “official speakers” in Russia, look how it was.
What is worth recognizing the voice of each family member and showing personalized results based on this, as well as a link with Spotify and Youtube Music.

But all these plans collapsed just a month before the launch. After all, at the end of 2018, “Russian competitors” planned to enter this niche, and then the company received a steady legislative hint “don’t poke your nose, otherwise it will be worse”, which is only worth the law banning 100% of products with one search assistant, which was adopted exactly in this period. Naturally, the company will never go for cutting out its software from its own hardware – this is impossible and actually closed the opportunity for Russia to receive advanced AI technologies in voice assistants along with the rest of Google’s hardware.

Transformation of the substation “Mir” from regional to global

Since the beginning of 2021, Google has made a huge investment to add regional Russian Mir bank cards to the global payment system Google Pay for the first time in the world. In fact, this meant a technological revolution – our cards should have become available for payment in all countries of the world where Google Pay is available – that is, by linking the Mir card of any bank, you could go to any country in the world and pay with this Russian card. And this is a fundamental difference from Apple Pay, where the technology worked with Mir only on the territory of the Russian Federation.

By the way, there is nothing similar either for the Japanese system or for the Chinese Union Pay, and the Russian one was supposed to be the first.

The release was technically ready back in October 2021, and NSPK “pulled as best they could”, so it was scheduled for March. Below you can see unique images of the planned official release of the Mir PS, which was supposed to take place on March 5, and even the first supported banks.

And, unfortunately, the release was canceled a day before the launch.

Wear OS by Google – with a priority for Russia

The platform from Google is the only platform for smartwatches with support for NFC payments and a voice assistant in Russian, both when paired with IOS and Android.

Despite all the legal restrictions on the sale of hardware with the Assistant, the company developed the direction of smart watches in Russian, moreover, in the current conditions, smart watches on pure Wear OS by Google (has nothing to do with Samsung) are the only solution in the world with Mir Pay support in conjunction with iPhone. In fact, for iPhone owners, this is the only choice to stay with contactless payments – buy a watch on pure Wear Os and install Mir Pay.

Mir Pay on Ticwatch Pro 3 in conjunction with Iphone

Moreover, the watch supports smart home control via the Assistant, as well as voice control.

It is especially surprising that the company invested so much money in our market, having no legal access to it in terms of iron.

Possible exit from Russia is a tragedy of a decade in Tech

In the last month, all these investments are gradually being reset to zero, and pressure from all sides does not leave any chance for the company.

Of course, the company has many more services than indicated above, but they show that investments and support for our market were colossal and virtually free of charge.

It must be clearly understood that all the technologies listed above are the most advanced services that the Russian representative office, represented by the management, actively lobbied within the company, forcing us to put our market in first place in terms of priority. These are the technologies that the Chinese have not yet learned to replace at home, because NFC payments are simply beyond their power – they are safer, faster, more convenient and at the same time very difficult to implement, so China is still on QR payments. And dreaming that they will do it for us is not worth it – there are no resources, knowledge and platforms. This also applies to all other points that cannot be repeated in either 5 or 10 years – this is not possible without the global IT world.

As a result, we get a situation where we need to negotiate and talk, not to think about the “enemies of technology”, but to talk with companies that are struggling to keep on the branches of technology that we all need (and the state too). And I want to believe that those who are now making decisions will come to their senses, because the decision to block this or that service can irrevocably kill the industry with one blow.

What do you think, do we need technology in the country, or according to the principle: burn it all at once? Write your opinion in the comments to the post.

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