Looks like Russia’s search giant Yandex is following in Google’s footsteps once again. Yandex is taking its services to new screens by inking a deal with Samsung to preload access to Yandex on its line of connected TVs as well as its bada-powered feature phones distributed in Russia and other CIS states.
But while this deal signifies a step towards more ubiquity for Yandex, it is not a sign of more Yandex services per se. The deal covers search as well as several Yandex widgets, including those for traffic, stocks, news and TV listings — but for now it includes nothing in the way of new video services along the lines of those being offered through other internet-based properties on connected TVs, such as Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV.
Google launched its TV service on devices from Logitech and Sony (NYSE: SNE). Another Samsung TV competitor, LG (SEO: 066570), has a deal with France Telecom (NYSE: FTE) to preload video services on its connected TVs for distribution in France Telecom’s home market.
According to a news release on the Yandex site, Yandex is now the default search engine on Samsung’s “Smart TV” line of products distributed in CIS countries. The Yandex search page also now appears as the default homepage on the TV internet portal. The widgets, meanwhile, are all accessible via the TV screens.
Less specific are details on the mobile deal: it looks like bada devices will also feature Yandex search and widget services, and the agreement may also include default search placement for Yandex. The bada tie-up will start up “in the near future,” according to the release.
While the deal shows that Yandex is on the hunt to build up a bigger audience via non-PC, connected devices, it also underscores a strategy from Samsung to partner locally to enhance its offerings, rather than rely on global agreements with the likes of global players like Google, which is strong in some parts of the world but plays a less prominent role in countries like Russia and China.
In Russia, in fact, Google’s market share has been suffering on the growth of Yandex specifically. Yandex says that its home page is the single most-visited internet page in Russia, with 24 million unique monthly visitors, according to figures from TNS in December 2010 and used by Yandex. Russia has around 140 million residents, of which about 50 million are internet users. The CIS as a whole has a population of around 300 million.
It also shows that Samsung is keen to bring more partners into its bada ecosystem. Although bada was developed by Samsung as a feature phone platform — one that is a huge seller for the company, it should be pointed out — some have been speculating that Samsung has even bigger plans for the OS. They believe Samsung might put a lot more emphasis on bada as its “third way” into the smartphone world, without reliance on operating systems designed by Google and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) (Samsung’s two smartphone OS partners today).
Samsung announced a partnership with Intel (NSDQ: INTC) some weeks ago that will see it developing a new linux-based platform, Tizen, which could serve as the bridge between bada and a smartphone OS.