Google and Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) have both reached settlement that will finally bring an end to long-term dispute over Android monopoly.
The settlement came with a fine as Google was made to pay $7.8 million to the Russian antimonopoly body. The search engine giant will also open up its Android operating system to other search engines in Russia. Google will also not continue to prevent other companies’ apps from coming preinstalled. The agreement also means Google search will no longer enjoy the monopoly of being the only search engine on Android.
Implementation of the settlement’s terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications. We managed to find a balance between the necessity to develop the Android ecosystem and interests of third-party developers for promoting their mobile applications and services on Android-based devices. The settlement’s execution will have a positive effect on the market as a whole, while giving developers additional options for promoting their products,” – Igor Artemiev, Head of the FAS Russia said on Monday.
Two years ago, Yandex also referred to as Russia’s version of Google search engine urged authorities in that country to open an antitrust probe against the American search giant for possibly violating the Russian antitrust law.
This came on the heels of antitrust probe of Google by the European Commission for similar worries raised by other competitors in the market, who express fear over the search engine’s dominance of the market. Competitors are worried that Google’s influence in the search engine market may not create a level playing field for all.
Yandex, amongst other reasons urged FAS to stop the bundling of Google’s operating system with apps on mobile devices. Yandex claimed that Google was “using its dominant position to promote its search and services,” said its chief executive Arkady Volozh.
He further said: “the user should be king” of choosing best applications.”
Google’s continued growth and dominance of the market in Russia is attributed to the popularity of its Android devices according to analysts. Yandex, according to WSJ, is the most installed operating system on 86% of all mobile devices being sold in Russia, and this gives Google the edge.
The petition filed by Yandex got FAS to carry out investigation into alleged monopoly by Google. The outcome of the investigation was what led FAS to impose a fine $6.7 million on the search engine giant at the time. Google was fined $6.75 million by the FAS for violating its antitrust rules on mobile phones and tablets—a ruling that was issued in 2015.
The FAS had issued Google a one-month ultimatum last October to get rid of apps from phones—an order in which the company failed to comply with. Google, however, insisted that its reason for not complying with the order was based on how revenue generated from ads from the services it renders cover costs of providing its OS at no cost.
Google is also being investigated by the European Commission for violating its antitrust regulation on competition. Last year, Margarethe Vestager, the European Commission’s antitrust commissioner said the antitrust body was “closely” monitoring Google’s contract with carriers and mobile manufacturers. Vestager’s concern was aimed at requirements Google places on its partners to have devices pre-installed with its apps.
“Our concern is that, by requiring phone makers and operators to pre-load a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” she said.