Russian search provider Yandex announced its own firmware for Android smartphones, intended to bring together “Yandex’s smart technologies with a simple interface and a selection of applications that are most in demand on the Russian markets”.
The company said that Yandex.Kit is an out-of-the-box solution that is installed on smartphones during their manufacture. The first devices supporting the technology – from vendors Huawei and Explay – go on sale in March, and will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress next week.
It enables device vendors to build smartphones powered by the basic version of Android (AOSP), and then use Yandex’s services to add additional functionality on top. This provides an alternative for Google Mobile Services, for example, which includes the US search giant’s various products and services – but comes at a price.
And with Yandex claiming to have a 62 per cent share of the Russian search market, the company is a worthy adversary to the Android creator in this country. Its portfolio includes an app store (which is also being used by Jolla to support its device rollout), maps and mail products.
While Yandex is promoting the technology to vendors targeting the Russian market, it is also offering various components to OEMs targeting other markets, which can be used alongside alternative services. The full Yandex.Kit features the latest version of the Yandex.Shell interface, which includes Yandex Search, Yandex.Maps and Yandex.Mail.
It is distributed on a fee-free basis, and “performs well on virtually any hardware, including the not-so-powerful devices popular in Russia and the CIS”. In Russia, vendors can also market devices with the Yandex logo, “to piggyback on the existing customer affinity for one of the most recognisable and strong brands in the country”.
In a statement, Yory Vecher, head of software distribution for the company, said that “revenue generated by Yandex.Kit will be shared with device manufacturers. We’re ready to work with any company manufacturing Android devices, on any market”.
“For Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey we offer comprehensive, out-of-the-box solutions, and for other markets we are happy to offer a set of key services that are essential for creating firmware,” Vecher continued.
The company is also promising tablets including Yandex.Kit in the summer.