RealTime IT News

Orientation Rolls Out Russia Portal

After rolling out six country portals and six regional portals in 1998, Hong Kong-owned Orientation Global Network has released its first product of 1999, Orientation Russia, a move that is consistent with its business plan of developing niche markets.

"Contrary to western opinion, Russia is one of the key Internet markets. Here the Internet is not a consumer event," said Phil Ingram, international marketing manager for Orientation. "It is, in the opinion of the local populace, the tool that will pull Russia's economy back into the light."

Currently, there are approximately one million online users in Russia, with the number expected to rise to about five million by the end of 2000.

"In many ways Russia is symbolic of where the Internet is going," said Jay Tindall, director of Product Development at Orientation. "Both individuals and businesses have accepted the Internet as the prime communications network to take Russia into the next millennium, literally skipping several stages of development experienced by Western countries. Orientation Russia will be right at the center of that."

The portal is the largest single Orientation country edition to date, and will allow surfers to search, in English or Russian, for Web sites about Russia.

It will offer what Orientation claims is the most comprehensive directory of reviewed sites concerning Russia.

According to Ingram, users of the portal can read breaking news headlines, updated hourly, that are taken from leading local news sources, including the St. Petersburg Times, the Moscow Times and ITAR-TASS, and international news from the BBC's Russian Service and Radio Free Europe.

Users will also find travel information produced in conjunction with leading travel publisher Lonely Planet, a deal that Orientation has globally, as well as other links to further travel information, a currency converter, and five-day weather forecasts for 25 Russian cities.

"Russians see the Internet as a big part of the solution to the current economic troubles," said Alex Osintseff, director of AO Interactive, Orientation's Russian partner. "Orientation Russia will play a major role in the continuing growth of the Russian Internet community, both at home and abroad, a community of both individuals and commercial businesses."

Orientation operates six other country portals, including Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Romania, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, and Thailand, all of which are in untapped markets.

The network also has six regional portals in Asia, Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin American & the Caribbean, the Middle East and Oceania.

Orientation was created by The Black Box, a privately held company based in Hong Kong, although this month it plans to move the network's headquarters to New York.