Russia: Yandex, a Russian search giant, launched a basic map service for Europe and the US. The new map service is powered by Navteq, Nokia’s subsidiary, and can be viewed through maps.yandex.com (and via its Turkish portal maps.yandex.com.tr). For now, no links to the Maps section from Yandex’s homepage is accessible. Yet Yandex claimed that the service is now up and running.
Off late Yandex has also launched its own Internet browser and an Android app store to build out its business and keep Google at bay in its home territory.
Quoting a Yandex spokesperson, Techcrunch reported that Yandex describes it as a ‘basement’ for future geo-location services. Currently, the service only offers simple features such as route planning and a limited search for features such as cities, villages and seas. Richer features such as searching by address, points of interest, merchants, traffic monitoring and street view are not currently offered but will be added in future. However, the company already offers such features in its maps for Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
In January 2012, when Yandex licensed the Navteq data, Yandex had said, “These digital maps will be used in the development of a detailed world map for the Yandex.Maps service” — but did not flag up any plans for taking its mapping service international. That said, Yandex notes that the international maps are intended mostly to serve Russians and Turkish users of Yandex. “We think map service will be useful for Europeans and Americans as well, but we are thinking about translating it [from the Navteq default of English] into Turkish/Russian when we have geo-services,” the spokesperson added.
In Russia, Yandex’s Maps service does especially well on the desktop, with 16.5 million unique users in September 2012, according to ComScore. The company says it also clocked 6.6 million mobile users for its maps in the month.
In Russia and the CIS countries, Yandex has made and supports digital maps for most of regions, partnering with other local maps providers to ensure comprehensive coverage.