Yandex’s alternative Android store helps Jolla’s Sailfish OS get off the ground

Yandex on Jolla

One of Jolla’s potential rocket-thrusters is the Android compatibility of its Sailfish OS – the MeeGo-derived smartphone platform was always going to run Android apps alongside its own, and the operating system recently gained the ability to run on Android hardware as well.

But, given that Google’s Play Store is out of the question, how are users supposed to get their hands on those apps? Now we know the answer to that one: On Wednesday, Finland’s Jolla announced a partnership with Russian web giant Yandex, through which the Yandex.Store app marketplace – usually found on obscure, non-Google Android devices — will come preinstalled on Jolla smartphones.

According to a statement from Jolla co-founder Sami Pienimaki:

“Jolla’s strategy is always to work with the most applicable service partners in specific markets and create long-term strategic partnerships. We analysed a number of alternative Android app stores to use for our first markets in Europe, and quickly found out that what Yandex offered was very competitive and that they were very interested in developing their app store together with us for their future needs and for the needs of Sailfish customers.”

The deal means the Jolla smartphone will be able to launch later this year with popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Foursquare and so on, which is nice, but these Android apps offer an uncertain user experience on a platform that isn’t Android, or even an Amazon-style Android fork. Sailfish OS has its own notification system, for example, and its own control gestures.

However, while native rather than Android apps will probably provide the best experience, Jolla only opened up its Store to submissions last week. With Yandex.Store already offering around 85,000 apps, I think it’s pretty clear which app type is expected to do the heavy lifting in the early days of Jolla and its Sailfish OS.

(Incidentally, Jolla phones will also carry Nokia’s Here maps, the firm said on Wednesday — although it gave that particular game away late last week on Twitter.)

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