Mail.ru buys mobile maps service

Russian email-to-online-gaming group Mail.ru said on Thursday it had acquired MAPS.ME, a maps and navigation service for mobile devices, to help expand its global audience.

Mail.ru, majority-owned by Russia’s richest man Alisher Usmanov, had announced plans to expand in foreign markets in October 2012 and launched the my.com brand, which now offers an email service for mobile phones, as well as chat and games.

“Maps along with email and social networks are the products that have seen increased interest from mobile users, this is where we see a lot of potential,” Dmitry Grishin, chief executive of Mail.ru, told Reuters.

MAPS.ME provides applications for popular mobile operating systems, Google’s Android, Apple Inc’s iOS and BlackBerry.

The apps offer detailed “crowdsourced” offline maps for mobile devices, based on open data with basic services provided free. The application has been installed more than 7 million times since its 2011 release, including in Russia, the United States, Germany, Italy, and China, Mail.Ru said.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. A source familiar with the terms said the transaction was worth more than $10 million.

South African media giant, Naspers, has a 29% holding in Mail.ru.

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Mail.ru buys mobile maps service