Russia’s Yandex Searches For Mobile Growth, Buys SPB Software

Taking a page from its search counterparts in the East and West like Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Russia’s Yandex has scooped up a mobile software company, SPB Software, to grow its mobile offerings. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SPB, which has offices in Russia, Taiwan Thailand, develops software for the full range of smartphone platforms — from Android to iOS to Windows Phone — and their content includes games, productivity tools, as well as a product it calls the SPB Shell 3D, which can be used to customize the user interface of particular operating systems.

So far the mobile platforms that SPB covers with Shell 3D include Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile (but not Windows Phone 7), and it has worked with mobile operators as well to customize generic operating systems on devices that they sell to their respective customer bases.

The official announcement of the deal highlights SPB’s Shell 3D as a particular focus for Yandex, which plans to integrate its search capabilities and other mobile services such as news feeds and cloud services into the skin.

The acquisition could also mean that Yandex’s search engine and other services will likely be used as the backbone to any further games or tools that SPB develops in the future.

It is not clear how the acquisition will impact deals that SPB already has in place with other customers, or where the new company will sit within the wider Yandex organization. We have contacted both companies to ask these questions, as well as any details that can be disclosed on the acquisition price. Update: no details on the acqusition, but Olga Steidl, a VP for SPB, says that the company will “definitely continue to work with external clients such as carriers and device manufactures.”

The acquisition of SPB, in any case, is the latest in a number of steps from Yandex to grow its influence with and exposure to mobile consumers: late last week Yandex announced that it would become the default search client on Windows Phones distributed in Russia. In October, Yandex inked a similar deal with Samsung to be pre-loaded on its Bada devices.

So far Yandex has stayed away from moving to an all-out phone launch, as Google and Baidu have done, but if these moves are any indication of its bigger plans, don’t rule it out completely, either.