Yandex aims for 50 percent mobile search share in Russia: CFO

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Russian internet group Yandex is targeting a 50 percent share of the mobile search market in Russia after Google was forced to open up Android to rival search engines, CFO Greg Abovsky said on Thursday.

“We’ll be happy with (a) market share of 50s in mobile, and in Russia that should blend to the high 50s,” Abovsky said at the Morgan Stanley European Tech, Media & Telecom Conference in Barcelona.

The blended share would take into account Yandex’s higher market share of around two-thirds in desktop searches.

In Russia Yandex leads the world’s biggest search engine, Alphabet Inc’s Google.

But it has lagged for years on mobile devices as manufacturers of handsets running on Google’s popular Android operating system were blocked from installing services from Google’s competitors.

Google agreed in April to open up its Android operating system to rival search engines in Russia as part of a deal to settle a two-year dispute with Russian competition authorities.

Yandex said in its earnings release last month that its search share on Android in Russia jumped to 41 percent in the third quarter from 38 percent three months earlier, while the blended share, including both mobile and desktop, averaged 55 percent.

Abovsky said the search share on Android had already gone up to 45 percent and would rise further as every Android device will offer a choice of search windows from Jan. 1.

Shares in Yandex have risen more than 30 percent since mid-April when the deal with Google was reached.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Hugh Lawson