On the heels of the announcement that Apple (AAPL) had pre-sold a stunning two million iPhone 5 devices on the very first day of its availability, the company's shares crossed the $700 barrier in after-hours trading, joining a select few companies including Google, which passed that watershed mark earlier in September.
Just as Apple joined Google in this select group, TechCrunch has reported that it has come to an agreement with the Russian search giant Yandex to power Apple's mapping service on iOS6 in that market. In an even bigger break in its reliance on Google (GOOG) technology, Apple is also planning on using Yandex (YNDX) as the default search for the mobile version of Safari, TechCrunch states, according to sources close to the situation. Apple has also tapped TomTom (TMOAF.PK) and (reportedly) AutoNavi (AMAP) to provide iOS mapping data, as it tries to cut all ties with Google Maps.
The ramifications of these two arrangements could be grand indeed for both Apple and Yandex. Obviously, it is an indication that Apple is serious about striking partnerships with companies such as Yandex, Tom Tom (and potentially AutoNavi and Baidu (BIDU) in China) to replace existing dependence on Google technology. Apple has been criticized for replacing Google Maps in iOS 6, and this shows that it is serious about fixing this and other perceived deficiencies through such partnerships, which move it away from its reliance on Google services and products (such as Mapping and YouTube) in its core iOS 6 product.
For Yandex, the deal will enable it to bolster its market share against Google in Russia. Google's presence in Russia is growing stronger, accounting for roughly 22% of searches today, while Yandex's share is currently 60%. As for China, Apple has been rumored to be close to making a deal with Baidu to become the default search provider in Apple's iOS 6 version of Safari, although that would appear to be just one of several options available to Apple.
Apple just seems to go from strength to strength at the moment. And while its move away from incorporating Google services may initially irk users, if it manages to form the right partnerships, it should be able to implement innovative new versions of maps and other tools such as localized search. Despite its technical naysayers, sales of the iPhone 5 look electric indeed. The prognosis for Apple is bullish. For Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China, Google's loss should indeed turn out to be their gain.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.