Economy, Sci & Tech

Foreign Search Engines Welcome

Foreign Search  Engines Welcome
Foreign Search  Engines Welcome

The post-sanctions era presents an ideal opportunity for local search engines to cooperate with major foreign players, including Bing and Yahoo, said the secretary of the Administrative Council for Local Search Engines.

"Previously, Iran also sought linkups with other famous search engines such as Russia's Yandex, China's Baidu and South Korea's Naver," Alireza Yari also told Mehr News Agency.

"However, these services were not interested in cooperating with Iran, as they had a strong presence in their respective local markets and the international sanctions imposed on Iran did not allow them to navigate easily."  

Decades-old trade and financial restrictions were lifted against the Islamic Republic on Jan. 16, six months after the country reached a watershed deal with six world powers (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) on getting sanctions relief against temporary curbs on its nuclear program.

The implementation of the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has helped Iran reestablish links with the global financial and banking systems. It allows Iran to attract foreign investments and knowhow, apart from engaging in joint ventures and deals with international companies.

According to Yari, the lifting of sanctions will remove many of the restrictions in this area and Iranian firms can forge productive linkups with foreign counterparts.   

The official noted that Iranians can learn a lot from the experiences of foreign companies specialized in the areas of search engines.

"In the realm of information technology, the most successful search engine companies are equipped with tools that allow them to easily introduce new services on new platforms while promoting it in the market in only a few months," he said.

He added that Iran may even cooperate with Google, though this will probably be more difficult and the cooperation frameworks must be clearly defined.

This is while Google has reiterated that it has not been contacted by the Iranian government.

Yari further said cooperation models will vary, depending on the search engines agreeing to do business in Iran.

"As an example, Russia's Yandex has a strong search engine for finding images and cooperation with the company can be limited to that area, as Iranian search engines incorporate that feature," he said.

"We also intend to develop features for translating the Farsi language, an area where a lot can be learnt from the experiences of prominent companies offering translation services."

The official noted that the council is investigating different models for foreign cooperation and is preparing the documents, which have not been finalized yet.

Yari stressed that "no negotiations have been conducted yet, but the needed frameworks have been prepared so that arriving at a joint agreement will become easier when negotiations get underway."

Iran currently has two prominent search engines known as Parsijoo and Yooz, though most local Internet users still prefer to use Google or Yahoo.

To help develop the two domestic search engines, nearly $52 million were allocated by the Telecommunications Company of Iran in June last year. The budget allocated to the companies themselves is not known.

In October 2015, Russian and Iranian communications ministers Nikolay Nikiforov and Mahmoud Vaezi respectively signed a deal, following which Vaezi announced that Yandex will open an office in Iran.

However, a representative from Yandex told Baku-based media it had no plans to open up a local office.  

“Currently, we have no plans to open new offices,” Azerbaijan’s news provider, Trend, quoted Yandex press office as saying on Monday.