We knew it was coming soon, but Yandex has waited for the official start of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to actually debut it: say hola to Yandex.Store, its alternative Android app store with over 50,000 applications in its catalogue upon general release.
There’s even more Google spurning from Yandex, which has successfully fended off the giant from Mountain View in Russian-speaking territories – no easy feat as global search market share figures will tell you.
In addition to Yandex.Store, the Russian Internet services juggernaut is also launching a brand new version of its 3D interface for Android-based smartphones, which is dubbed Yandex.Shell.
The alternative Android app marketplace Yandex is releasing today is far from the only one currently on the market, as companies like Opera and Amazon also offer their own versions of Google Play, alongside independent providers such as GetJar.
But Yandex’s offering is interesting if only for its sheer size out the gate. Primarily targeting device manufacturers and mobile operators, Yandex.Store opens with over 50,000 apps in its catalogue, including popular ones like Skype, Foursquare and Cut the Rope.
Alexander Zverev, Head of the Yandex.Store project, says:
“The global market for Android-based mobile phones is very fragmented. There are only a few major players who enjoy a meaningful share, with the remaining portion of the market, which is quite significant, distributed among hundreds of smaller companies.
We are joining the game to contribute to competition that ensures freedom of choice for the end user and other members of the market.”
Duly noted, although it remains to be seen how receptive OEMs and carriers will be. Yandex may be a major force in Russian-speaking countries, and it’s easily one of the most valuable Internet companies in Europe, but you’d be hard-pressed to call it a major global brand just yet.
Not that it’s stopping the company from trying: the Yandex.Store app is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Turkish, Ukrainian and Russian, with support for more languages coming soon.
We hear the company has loads of meetings with device OEMs and carriers from all over the globe lined up at the Mobile World Congress to pitch the alternative Android app store.
The most compelling part of their sales pitch is that it’s, basically, free.
Deployment and usage of Yandex.Store is available under a license agreement, but doesn’t involve any additional fees.
The Russian Internet giant aims to make money by getting a cut of app sales revenue from Yandex.Store partners. It says all apps in the Yandex.Store app catalogue are verified by Kaspersky Lab technologies.
For your background: Yandex recently reported Q4 2012 revenues of $290.4 million and net profit of $88.6 million.
For the Russian market, Yandex already has some Yandex.Store partners on board: a number of device manufacturers, including 3Q, Explay, Oppo, PocketBook and Qumo will be shipping mobile devices with the Yandex.Store marketplace app pre-installed in the coming months.
One of Russia’s largest mobile operators, MegaFon, has already created a mobile app store called GetUpps, which partially uses the technology and apps pool of Yandex.Store.
Yandex is today also debuting a new version of Yandex.Shell at the Mobile World Congress.
Self-reportedly one of the world’s most popular user interface solutions for customizing Android-powered smartphones, Yandex.Shell enables device manufacturers and mobile operators to transform the default Android home screen into a 3D space.
Yandex.Shell, which the Russian company says has been downloaded over 1 million times to date, also offers push panel technology, which allows sending customized panels and skins straight to the phone over the air, and gives manufacturers a lot of control over what their phone looks and feels like to the end customer.
The fresh version of Yandex.Shell features a new dialer and address book, and is offered with a customized installation package and a default layout configuration.
The alternative Android UI is available in English and distributed to device manufacturers for free under a licensing agreement.
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