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Yandex Ups Mobile Position In Deals With Microsoft, SPB Software

Yandex, Russia's No. 1 search engine, continues to shore up its position in mobile markets after buying SPB Software, which provides software for most mobile phone platforms, and signing a separate deal with Microsoft.Unconfirmed reports put the acquisiton at $38 million, but company executives declined to comment on the amount.

Yandex will use SPB's technology to integrate cloud services. Arkady Borkovsky, Yandex CTO, told MediaPost: "It's part of our growth strategy. It will create new market opportunities through the technology and the talent."

Some of those market opportunities will come from phones running the Windows operating system. SPB offers a suite of mobile options on tablets and smartphones running Android, iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry, MeeGo, webOS, Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile OS, among others.

Borkovsky said Yandex's mobile search engine provides users with a different, optimized search experience, compared with searches on laptops or computers. "We are working on applications that are optimized for mobile searches," he said. "Mobile search is growing in Russia, and we are investing in services. We plan to release them soon."

Yandex became the default search engine on Windows Phone-based handsets in Russia through partnerships with Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, and HTC.

At the time of Yandex's IPO earlier this year, the engine had already developed apps for Windows phones, such as Yandex Web Search and Yandex Maps. comScore published numbers stating that Yandex held 64% of the search market in Russia, nearly double Google's market share in that country.

Russ Mann, CEO at Covario, a search marketing platform and services provider, said companies have begun to draw new battlegrounds with partners and acquisitions. Movement by U.S. companies into international mobile search markets will continue to climb, with a tipping point in 2012. "In developing markets like Asia and Latin America, some companies use mobile marketing to leapfrog computer marketing," he said.

The search engine also supports mobile search in numerous former Soviet Republics, but plans to enter additional markets as well, Borkovsky said. "The Russian market is limited, so we need to look outside and expand," he said. "If we can succeed outside of Russia it will be better for the marketers where we choose to go. Competition is good."