Yandex, the Internet giant that dominates the search engine market in Russia and much of Eastern Europe, announced on Tuesday it had acquired KitLocate, a startup focused on location technology for smartphones.
The Tel Aviv, Israel-based KitLocate’s main focus is on low-power consumption geo-tracking for mobile devices that don’t require continuous GPS syncing. More specifically, using KitLocate’s tech, Yandex plans to boost its mobile search results — as well as offers for products and services — on smartphones and tablets based on their current location.
So for instance, if a Yandex user searches for “tacos,” KitLocate’s tech will kick in and serve up taco stand suggestions based on where the user is. (Though I’m not sure there are many taco stands in Russia.)
The move comes as Yandex has sought to beef up its mobile search and social tech over the last few years, especially as more of the world has moved from desktop search to using smartphones as a primary computing device.
Last year, Yandex made a foray into local discovery by launching Wonder, an app that used the Facebook Graph application programming interface to let users discover people and places of interest around them; the project was quickly shut down after Facebook cut off API access to Yandex.
Google, Yandex’s largest global opponent, has made inroads in mobile search over the past six years with the rise of its Android mobile operating system, which comes with Google search built directly into the phone’s home screen.
Eight of KitLocate’s team members will join Yandex’s mobile search team as a result of the acquisition and will remain in Tel Aviv as a new Israel-based Yandex office. Yandex also plans to open the API to external third-party developers who want to use the technology in their products.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.