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We have seen in China how web services, social networks and telcos are re-working open-source Android to offer their own, badged local mobile operating systems, devoid of Google’s name or services.
Last week, Russian web portal Mail.ru unveiled its own branded web browser based on Google’s chrome.
Today, Yandex, Russia’s leading search site, is announcing two products in one day that, whilst based on Google software, will nevertheless prove problematic for Mountain View.
It is introducing its own web browser based on Chrome‘s Chromium framework and is launching an alternative Android app store that will let mobile users get their apps from Yandex, not Google.
The web browser goes further than Chrome by integrating Kaspersky malware detection and Opera’s page compaction technology.
The Android app store, Yandex.Store, is being hailed by the Russian outfit as “yet another building block in Yandex’s mobile ecosystem”:
“The company can now offer an alternative package of mobile solutions to any Original Equipment Manufacturer around the world who would like to build their own Android-based smartphone or tablet. Yandex’s mobile ecosystem now has all key components to provide OEMs with an opportunity to customize their devices: 3D user interface Yandex.Shell, a bunch of out-of-the-box mobile apps, including Yandex.Search, Yandex.Mail, Yandex.Maps-based services, and, finally, Yandex.Store with a wide range of applications from Android developer community.”
First of those OEMs will be MegaFon, the Russian mobile telco, which will be using Yandex.Store to power Android apps on its handsets.
The tactic is interesting because Yandex doesn’t have its own Android-based full mobile operating system, as some other services do, but is inserting itself in to the mobile value chain as an Android interlocutor.
Google’s desktop and mobile software is beginning to support large businesses overseas. Each time it does so, it leaves a smaller emerging-markets opportunity for Google itself to gobble up. By launching their own web browsers, Mail.ru and Yandex will get to lock users in to their own sets of services. In mobile, Yandex says it will take a 30 percent cut of transactions processed through Yandex.Store.