Russian Regulators Give Google November 18 Deadline To Change Android Contracts

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The Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (FAS) told Google it has until November 18 to address a finding that it violated Russian competition law. FAS agreed with Yandex, which had complained that Google was in violation by requiring phone makers to pre-install selected Google apps on Android as a condition of gaining access to the Google Play store.

FAS also said the Google contracts included a ban on any pre-installation of competitive applications from other companies, such as Yandex.

The regulatory investigation was initiated in February after the Yandex complaint. The decision was handed down a couple of weeks ago. While Yandex is the dominant PC search engine, Android has a roughly 80 percent market share in Russia.

TechCrunch obtained a statement from Yandex, which celebrated the FAS ruling. Below is an excerpt of that Yandex statement:

Our goal is to return fair play to the market — when apps are preinstalled on mobile devices based on how good or how popular they are rather than due to restrictions imposed by the owner of the operating system. The fact that such restrictions have continually been tightening, led us to filing a request for investigation with Russia’s Antimonopoly Service.

Yandex and Google alike understand the needs of web users, and they both know how to provide a top-notch service. Professional competence of Google Russia’s team is beyond doubt, but why use restrictions or ban competition if one truly believes in the quality of their product?

There’s a comparable investigation into Android requirements in Europe, and the US FTC recently announced it will also reexamine Google’s app pre-installation rules. I strongly suspect we’ll eventually see a similar outcome in Europe (if not the US, as well), seeking to uncouple hardware OEM access to Google Play from any required Google app installation and placement.

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