We knew that Russian Internet services giant Mail.ru was planning to launch internationally under the name My.com, and today that drive starts with the US launch of email and IM apps, myMail and myChat, along with a mobile gaming product called myGames.
myMail is an iOS and Android email client that loosely resembles Google’s native Gmail app crossed with the latest version of Tweetbot. It supports multiple email providers, including Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.com, but promises realtime push notifications for all emails you receive, something most email clients (at least on iOS) don’t offer. To cut down on noise, users can opt to switch off push notifications for emails from the likes of social networks and marketers.
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Meanwhile, My.com hopes to use myChat get a foothold in the US ‘SMS replacement’ IM app market before the likes of Asia’s Line make a big push there. The Whatsapp-style app offers VoIP and voice calling in addition to IM, and there’s the now almost compulsory inclusion of stickers that users can send to each other.
Both apps are free and (third-party) ad-free, relying on promotion of My.com’s mobile games to generate revenue. myGames currently offers three games; Jungle Heat, Poker Arena, and Lucky Fields. The company says that since a recent soft launch, Jungle Heat has already received 1.5 million downloads on iOS and 6 million downloads on Android, while Lucky Fields has been installed 1.2 million times on Android since August.
In a briefing call last week, Mail.Ru CEO and Chairman, Dmitry Grishin, described My.com’s focus as “communitainment” – offering communication products subsidized by entertainment. He noted that a photo sharing app, myCamera, would be launched in the near future.
The challenge for Mail.ru with My.com is that it’s entering a competitive market with little experience of American consumers’ tastes. Grishin is obviously bullish about the company’s chances. He explains that marketing and market research for My.com will be handled from an office in Mountain View, Silicon Valley, although all development will take place in Russia.
Fellow Russian titan Yandex struggled in its initial experiment with the American market but Mail.ru is going in much bigger here with a far more mainstream brand and range of products. We’ll be watching closely to see how it fares