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05.12.2018 12:53
Russian tech group Yandex launches own smartphone
Android-based device will be cheaper than comparable products from Samsung and Apple

  • Yandex hopes its new phone will boost demand for its AI assistant Alice
    © Yandex

The Russian technology group Yandex has launched its first ever smartphone. The company seeks to leverage its dominant position in apps and services into hardware sales, the Financial Times reports.

Yandex, which runs the most popular search engine in Russia, hopes its Yandex.Phone will bind users closer to its suite of products, from food delivery and taxi hailing apps to marketplace and music streaming platforms, as competition rises for online services.

The Android-based smartphone’s launch comes amid a fierce race for market share in Russia’s fledgling e-commerce industry, where Yandex and Russian lender Sberbank have teamed up to compete against international giants Alibaba and Amazon.

“We built Yandex.Phone to offer Russian users a smartphone that is equipped with all the localised tools that help users better navigate their daily routines (...) and the most widely used Yandex applications,” said Fedor Yezhov, Yandex’s chief vice-president of ecosystem products.

The device will go on sale on Thursday at 17,990 roubles (€237.69), significantly less than comparable products from Samsung and Apple. Samsung and China’s Huawei are competing for the top spot in Russia’s mobile phone market and together account for around 50% of sales, according to research by IDC, with Apple in third place.

The company also hopes the device will boost demand for its AI assistant Alice, its alternative to Siri and Alexa, tablets and home smart speakers. Yandex said Alice would offer 34,000 different tasks on the new device.

“Within the smartphone, the Yandex apps are presented in the form of an ecosystem with Alice at its centre. It’s not necessary to open individual apps to solve a task: just ask Alice,” said Mr Yezhov.

At a launch event on Wednesday in Moscow, Yandex said the device would use the Android 8.1 platform, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and feature a 5.65-inch Full HD+ screen, a fingerprint sensor and dual rear 12 megapixel and 5 megapixel cameras and a 5 megapixel front camera.

The company’s search dominance in Russia and other former Soviet republics make it the world’s fifth-largest search engine. It has used that clout to squeeze out Uber’s local taxi and food delivery services.

TAGS: Yandex | phone | mobile | ai | assistant | smartphone | apps | launch 

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