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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Multimedia to Hit U.S. Market

A Russian computer holding company has opened its first U.S.-based office specializing in multimedia software in an effort to pitch its products to the United States' estimated 3 million Russian speakers.

Viacheslav Rudnikov, president of the R-Style Group, said he believes there is a lucrative niche for his Russian-language products deep in the heart of an old Cold War foe.

The U.S. subsidiary, based in San Francisco and called New Media Generation Inc., or NMG, will begin promoting this month R-Style's "play and learn" animated cartoon films -- games designed to teach children several foreign languages, Rudnikov said. He said he believes it is the first-ever attempt to market Russian-language products in the United States and that there are plans to expand offices in Europe.

"I am sure that, despite stiff competition from Western companies, NMG Inc. has good marketing prospects," Rudnikov said. "Even in the near future, we are expecting to establish good positions on the markets of U.S.A., Western Europe and the Middle East."

R-Style, a holding consisting of eight companies and 700 employees, is one of Russia's largest computer businesses, with seven offices across the country. It has been active on the market since 1991 and over the years has diversified from a dealership network into hardware assembly and software production.

Most of R-Style's 45 multimedia products are in Russian and will first be marketed toward the estimated 2 million to 3 million Russian speakers in the United States. But work is also under way on translated versions of games and interactive teaching and art programs, Rudnikov said.

Industry specialists said R-Style is following an impressive precedent set by ParaGraph International Inc., a Russian software company that moved most of its operations to California in the mid-90s before being bought out in May by Silicon Graphics Inc. Paragraph is a world leader in graphics, animation and Internet technology.

But a Russian company looking to market its software in the United States faces stiff financial obstacles, according to Armean Khalatian, head of marketing at ProInvest Consulting, another Russian company eyeing the U.S. market. Khalatian said establishing a U.S. presence carries a minimum price tag of $500,000, "but the real cost may be 10 times as great."

R-Style recently acquired two new firms that are the cornerstones of its overseas expansion. One, New Media Generation, was established in 1995 and specializes in educational programs and interactive cartoon films. The second, Cyril & Mephodius, also produces educational programs, but is primarily known for its series of encyclopedias. It also was formed in 1995, and the following year was listed among the top 10 Russian software companies by the Russian computer union.

R-Style's activities range from producing its trademark Proxima computer and banking software to handling distribution and retail sales. Monthly software sales run at about $2 million, Rudnikov said, and the firm produces a range of computer models. "What is really important is that we are creating a national product," he said. "We are a Russian company that has the greatest proportion of sales of its own products."