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Super apps, artificial intelligence make main 2020 IT trends in Russia — experts

According to experts, an important consumer IT trend in Russia in 2020 may be the growing interest of users to pay for video content by subscription

MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. Super apps, cloud gaming, artificial intelligence and the growing consumption of paid video content will determine the trends in the IT sphere in Russia in 2020, experts told TASS.

Experts call the emergence of super apps — applications that combine services such as instant messaging, ordering food and transport, payment tools, e-commerce — one of the main trends of 2020. In Russia, Mail.Ru Group (using Vkontakte app), as well as Tinkoff Bank and Sberbank primarily oversee the development of such ecosystems. "Tinkoff and other companies are now catching up; in 2019 super apps became a full-fledged trend and will continue to develop. First of all, such products will appear in companies with developed ecosystems of their own services: banks, telecom operators, etc.," Dmitry Ryabinin from Hi-Tech said.

Other IT market players in Russia, including Sberbank and Yandex, will also try to launch their own super apps, leading analyst of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) Karen Kazaryan believes. However, so far the popularity of such apps in Russia is doubtful, he added. "I’m afraid that companies will [try to launch super apps] largely misunderstanding why exactly Asian super apps are successful and how they have built systems, replacing all parts of the usual mobile ecosystem. I don’t believe in their popularity in Russia," he explained.

Another IT trend in Russia will be artificial intelligence, experts presume. Thus, the government is discussing setting up a federal project within Digital Economy national project to develop AI. In addition, the Russian president earlier approved the National Development Strategy for Artificial Intelligence until 2030. 

"In 2020, the tendency to automate routine processes using AI will continue and strengthen. A separate very relevant trend for Russia is the impact of AI on the labor market. Companies want to be digital, they need people for this who can work in a digital environment with digital tools, so it’s important to be able to evaluate digital skills and to upgrade them," Dmitry Ryabinin elaborated.

Cloud gaming and video streaming

In Russia, as well as globally, cloud gaming technology, which allows to stream games to lower end computers, was given a boost in 2019. Google, Sony and Nvidia are engaged in the development of the technology worldwide, whereas in Russia it is applied only by MTS, Megafon, Beeline, and Rostelecom.

According to Yaroslav Meshalkin, director of strategic communications at ESforce eSports holding, cloud gaming in Russia will be an unconditional industry trend, but it is part of a more global trend when complex technical operations are assigned to "clouds" rather than "hardware." "5G, ‘cloud’ — this is what telecom operators around the world are betting on, and efforts in these areas should be justified. According to SuperData, global gaming revenues amounted to $109.4 bln by the end of 2019, showing constant growth over the past few years, so the desire to enter this industry through the ‘cloud’ is quite understandable," Meshalkin is sure.

According to experts, another important consumer IT trend in Russia in 2020 may be the growing interest of users to pay for video content by subscription. In 2019, the online cinema Okko (owned by the Rambler Group) and Yandex bought the rights to broadcast popular sporting events — English Premier League and NHL matches. This marked the beginning of a trend that will be observed in the future, experts believe. "The trend for purchasing content that was previously exclusive for TV will certainly continue. Yandex and other companies are trying to take live TV’s place. The current pace will continue, unless something changes in regulation. For example, limitations for Western services will be in place, or on the contrary, Russian TV channels will decide to play a monopoly with Internet content," Karen Kazaryan said.

Head of the Content Review information and analytical agency Sergei Polovnikov added that in 2020 Russian companies — Rambler Group, Kinopoisk, Amediateka and others — may produce their own content in order to try to "pull" the audience from services like Netflix and continue to wean Russians off pirated content. "Direct contracts of Russian companies with such majors as Universal Pictures, Fox and Disney are not ruled out to narrow the window between distribution and digital releases of movies," Polovnikov added.