Rambler Starts Social Networking Site

Internet portal Rambler on Wednesday announced the launch of Rambler-Druzya, a social networking site to compete with market leaders Vkontake.ru and Odnoklassniki.ru.

Like its competitors, Rambler's networking site offers the ability to find friends, send messages and share photos and video. "Social networks and communications services are becoming ever more popular," Arkady Moreinis, director of project development at Rambler Media, said in a statement. "By offering access to the most popular sites through one Internet project, we're creating new opportunities for socializing."

The project is the latest entry into a crowded market where homegrown brands Odnoklassniki, which boasts more than 20 million registered users, and Vkontakte, with 13 million as of May, are looking to hold off MySpace and Facebook. The sites have spurred a boom in online advertising, with MindShare Interaction saying the Russian market could top $600 million in 2008.