Yandex launches Android Firmware Yandex.Kit with Apps and Alternative Services

Yandex has launched a new firmware kit called Yandex.Kit as an alternative software suit for Android smartphones. The company is targeting at OEMs and  carries that don’t want to get binded to Google’s own software suit and services. The kit is completely built on Android open source, making things easy for manufacturers to ditch Google’s Android versions.

Even though Yandex may not rival Google globally, the company could certainly influence manufactures and carriers to use the Kit in Russia where users and carriers want a more locally flavored services. The company also plans to expand its reach globally by targeting at B2B clients by offering in-depth customization of the Kit including branding the app store and ability to offer the specific device maker’s/carrier’s own apps so that they won’t have to stick with Google’s branding.

According to Yandex, the Yandex.Kit is “a comprehensive, out-of-the-box solution, versatile and technologically honed enough to be offered to original device manufacturers as firmware that they can install on their devices shipped to the Russian market”.

Interestingly, the Kit is completely fee-free  and services and apps available with the Kit includes Yandex Search; its webmail app Yandex.Mail; maps via Yandex.Maps; the Yandex.Store. The Store may not be able to compete with Google’s Play store which has more than a million apps,  but  if the company could convince the developers and manufactures about its Kit and its advantages, numbers of apps could significantly be increased over the time.

The Kit is also coming with a 3D homescreen launcher based on Yandex.Shell; the Yandex.Browser mobile browser; and a dialer which uses Yandex’s Business Directory to identify a caller’s number. On top of that, to target at OEMs outside Russia, the Kit can be paired with other offerings such as  Nokia’s HERE maps  as an alternative to Google’s map.

In order to attract users, Yandex is also offering a 10% rebate  for Yandex.Store users on each app purchase that will be moved into a rebate account for purchasing more apps.

andex also said that  it has already got two clients  who will be showing their Android devices loaded with Yandex.kit  at the MWC 2014. The companies  are Huawei, the Chinese OEM and Russian device manufacturer Explay.

It seems that there is chance for a different experience on top of the Android. According to recent report, the Android growth in 2013 is at its lowest rate which may be showing consumers’ interest on different platform and experience like Windows Phone. Yandex may be aiming at users who want a different experience from the usual Google flavored Android OS, while making sure users’ access to the Android ecosystem.