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Yandex to power iPhone map services in Russia

Russia: Russian search giant Yandex will power the mapping services for Apple users in the country when the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system goes live, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal.

The move is another sign of the growing distance between Apple and rival Google. At one time Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, was on Apple’s board, but that relationship soured. Recently Apple announced the end of it mapping deal with Google (using the Dutch TomTom instead), it is retiring Google’s YouTube app from the start screen on Apple mobile devices, and Apple is locked in legal battles with several handset makers that use Google’s rival Android operating system.

Anyone using Apple’s mapping service on an iOS6 powered device inside Russia will receive information provided by Yandex, according to the report. In addition, anyone using mapping services about Russia but located outside the country will be fed information by Yandex.

Yandex will also power location-based searches such as finding restaurants or shops using Yandex’s city objects search, which launched in 2004. The deal only relates to Russia, not to other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States or Turkey, Yandex’s first venture outside of the Russian speaking market.

If a user finds something on the iPhone map and wants more details, a “Yandex” button on the listing will take the user to the Yandex.map app if it is installed, or will direct them to the App store to download it. Russian bloggers were the first to notice the integration when the “gold master” of iOS6, used by developers for app programming, featured Yandex-powered maps.

Vladimir Isaev, a spokesman for Yandex, declined to comment on the Apple deal. “We have 60% of the market share in Russia, according to liveinternet.ru, an independent stats provider,” he said. Yandex market share has been slipping lately against the threat from Google. This deal will help Yandex improve its position.

Source: WSJ