Leading Russian search engine Yandex is entering into a major partnership with Apple. As reported in Businessweek, Yandex, the Russian equivalent of Google, will have its Yandex Maps location service integrated with Apple iOS6-based devices sold in Russia.

Saying Goodbye to Google

Apple has been phasing the Google Maps location service out of its operating system, using other location search functionality in the iOS6 platform that powers new Apple devices such as the iPhone 5. However, Russian observers testing the developer version of iOS6 (which will be available for download starting Sept. 19) noted that it included integration with Yandex search.

Businessweek reports Apple stopped using Google applications in its operating system because Google software supports the Android platform, which is the biggest competitor to iOS. Apple is also reportedly using third-party location search functionality from providers including Yelp and TomTom in the US version of iOS6 and AutoNavi Holdings in the Chinese version. While Apple is motivated to partner with Yandex by a desire to replace what is generally considered to be strong Google Maps functionality, Businessweek says Yandex is motivated by a need to hold its roughly 60% share of the Russian search market.

Yandex Picks Up Where Google Leaves Off

Partnering with Apple is the latest step Yandex has taken this year to expand its market-leading position. In May, Yandex completed its IPO, opening at higher-than-expected US$ 25 per share and raising US$ 1.3 billion in the process. Yandex, which trades as YNDX on the NASDAQ exchange, was slightly down from its IPO price at $24.77 per share in NASDAQ trading this morning (Sept. 18).

And in February, Yandex entered another partnership with a major name in US technology. Yandex licensed Twitter's full public tweets -- the "firehose" of data that features every public post made by users. As such, the search engine can index and push this content in relevant searches.  

A search across public tweets are also directly accessible via twitter.yandex.ru, where over 2 million users' tweets are currently available. These are mostly in Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian or Kazakh languages. Other top languages are likewise included. According to Yandex, the search also supports username- and hashtag-search, adding to the service's ease of use and flexibility. Interestingly, this partnership also came on the heels of Twitter and Google ending a partnership.

Yandex, short for “yet another index,” is also a leading search provider in certain Eastern European states like Belarus, Khazakstan and Ukraine. Yandex' business model is advertising-driven and has seen a steady rise, with a 90% year-on-year revenue growth in 2010. Whether this growth is sustainable (Yandex has slightly lost Russian search market position from its 65% share in May, while #2 Russian search provider Google grew from 22% to 26%), and whether integrating with iOS6 will help, will become evident over time.

Yandex and Apple officials have not publicly commented on the integration.