We all know and love Google in the States, as well as most of Western Europe – they are the giant of search in the west. Google aren’t the big dog everywhere however, and in Russia they’re second to the local search giant – Yandex – who are becoming the No. 2 force in parts of Eastern Europe. Nowadays, when we think of “search” it’s just a quick phone unlock away however, Yandex seem to be struggling in this department as they’ve struggled to get manufacturers to use their services on Android devices. Such a think has worked fantastically for Google in the states, since the launch of the T-Mobile G1 – which just turned 4 years old – but in Russia, Yandex yet to have a complete mobile solution for their users.
To combat this, Arkady Volozh CEO of the company is looking to forge their own Android-based ecosystem. Which presumably involves forking the Android source code and developing their own apps for e-mail, search etc. It’s hardly surprising to see a search giant take a move such a this after all, Android phones with Google services onboard are hardly going to be that helpful for your cause. When talking at the F.ounders web conference in Dublin Volozh had this to say “It is almost impossible for us to be on Android,” and that the company has “an application set that can be preinstalled which we are confident will find its way to vendors.”
The Yandex machine has already made strategic acquisitions that could help them on the road to creating their own ecosystem. The Russian company already has the means to create their User Interface on top of Android and it’s said that they have the tools necessary to create an OS that looks very different, not unlike what we’ve seen with Amazon and the Kindle Fire. This is, of course, the double-edged sword of Open Source technology – it’s very easy to get everyone on your platform with access to the right tools however, thanks to the licensing on the Android source code, the AOSP doesn’t benefit from these forks such as Amazon’s and now the upcoming fork from Yandex. This wouldn’t happen if it were licensed under the GPL but, I don’t think Google are too worried about Russia right now.
Yandex are looking to further their expansion further into Europe. They’ve made headway in Turkey and are looking to become No. 2 there before long. They already have a good presence in Belarus, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. It’s hardly surprising to see things like this happen but it’d be good to see companies embrace Android a little more after all, the more people under the same banner, the better.