Yandex mulling own version of Android to topple Google's search dominance


Russian search giant Yandex is considering building its own version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) open-source Android mobile operating system in an effort to more effectively compete against Google's mobile services.

Speaking at the annual F.ounders conference in Dublin, Yandex founder and CEO Arkady Volozh said only about 10 percent of its search traffic originates on mobile devices, split roughly half and half between Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rival iOS. Volozh said that because it is "almost impossible" for the company to convince Android device manufacturers to preinstall its mobile search solutions, Yandex is mulling its own customized version of the OS--late last year, it acquired SPB Software and its signature SPB Shell 3D mobile user interface, a move to offer consumers more efficient access to its search tools, and last month introduced its own Android app storefront.

Volozh cautioned that Yandex is still deliberating whether to commit to developing a full-scale Android OS, however. "Launching an ecosystem is more than just having a platform," he said. "It would be a very large undertaking."

Yandex will face an uphill battle if it pulls the trigger on its OS plans. Google recently announced that Android is on pace to power 1 billion devices across the globe within the next year. In addition, 68 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide during the second quarter of this year run Android, according to independent analyst firm Canalys.

Yandex controls roughly 60 percent of the Russian market and is now focusing its attention on emerging markets like Turkey, where it boasts a market share of 30 percent, behind Google at 60 percent. "Do you think search should be like water--you turn on the tap and there it is from only one provider? What about we provide a choice for users, like hot water, for example," he said, adding Yandex will expand into other markets but declining to specify potential countries or regions.

"The principles are clear: markets in which Google has no competition; enough critical mass of content and users for it to be a market; and markets in which Google is not focusing," Volozh said. "Google paid more attention to Europe than it did to Turkey. It was easy for us to come [up] with maps. Google only provided basic mapping services."

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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