Finnish smartphone startup Jolla has teamed up with Russian search company Yandex to deliver Android apps to its forthcoming Sailfish OS devices.
The app store arrangement with Yandex locks in a key missing piece in the startup's story so far, namely, where owners of the Jolla device would get their apps from.
The young company of former Nokians have made its Sailfish OS "Android-compatible" and have also launched two pre-sale campaigns for the Jolla device, mainly targeting consumers in European countries.
Jolla hasn't revealed how many devices it's sold under the pre-order campaign but expects to deliver them to buyers sometime before the end of the year.
The deal with Yandex means that when the Sailfish OS smartphone does reach buyers, it will come pre-installed with the Yandex.Store app.
"Jolla's strategy is always to work with the most applicable service partners in specific markets and create long-term strategic partnerships. We analysed a number of alternative Android app stores to use for our first markets in Europe, and quickly found out that what Yandex offered was very competitive and that they were very interested in developing their app store together with us for their future needs and for the needs of Sailfish customers", Sami Pienimaki, co-founder of Jolla said in a statement.
According to Yandex, its app store features over 85,000 apps in 17 categories - still a fraction of the 900,000 or so app available on Google Play, but better than starting with from scratch with native-only apps. Yandex also notes that its store has an "in-app purchase opportunity" and is available in 37 languages.
Although Jolla has sought Android compatibility for Sailfish OS, it has never looked to Google Play as a distribution hub for those apps, pointing instead to third-party app stores.
Jolla has also been keen to launch in the Chinese market, very early on announcing a distribution deal with Chinese phone retailer D.Phone.
Although it hasn't announced further progress in China, if it does, the fact that it can't distribute apps through Google Play probably won't matter. A recent breakdown of the Chinese Android distribution by mobile analyst Benedict Evans showed that Google Play was only responsible for six percent of all app installs in China. Third party app markets, such as Tencent App Gem, Baidu App Store and AppChina, were responsible for 72.6 percent of all installs in China.