Yandex may be in line to become the default search engine on devices that Apple sells in Russia. But for now it’s engaging in a little competition with Cupertino, and others. Today the Russian search giant is launching its own answer to iCloud: a free web-based storage product it’s calling Yandex.Disk.
Users of Yandex.Disk get up to 10 gigabytes of space that they can use for personal documents, photos, music and videos, and like iCloud and Microsoft’s Skydrive the service is aimed specifically at offering storage services that help keep users tied in to the rest of Yandex’s portfolio of products. The files can subsequently be accessed from any internet-enabled device.
Like the integration that we’ve seen from attachments.me to automatically save email attachments to services like Dropbox and Box, Yandex.Disk also automatically saves email attachments from users’ Yandex.Mail accounts — a service that is on top of that 10GB allowance. Yandex says it will be adding more Yandex services to that list in future. The service is currently invitation-only to those who are registered for other Yandex services.
Digital lockers and cloud storage services have become almost table stakes for big companies that want to build businesses out of distributing other kinds of cloud-based content (see HTC’s own Dropbox deal) and the same goes for Yandex.
In the Russian’s case, in addition to products like its email service, it also has Yandex.Music. This is a free streaming service that Yandex offers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan that covers some three million tracks and has 2.8 million monthly unique users.
Yandex tells me that for now the service, designed with a Russian interface, is being marketed specifically in Russia and other Russian-speaking markets; there are no stated plans at the moment to extend that, although Yandex has done so with other products in its portfolio (such as search).
In addition to being accessible via a web interface across different platforms, Yandex.Disk will also work via a Windows or MacOS GUI client, as well as via the Yandex.Mail app available for iPhone and Android devices.
There has been some speculation that Yandex and Apple might link up, as part of a larger strategy from Apple to offer integration with local leaders in certain big markets outside the U.S. So far, it has integrated a lot of Chinese services, for example, into its latest Mac OS, Mountain Lion.
Some believe that this will extend to China’s search leader Baidu becoming the default search engine on iOS devices as well, something that has yet to be confirmed. Yandex also would not comment on the question.