Google has settled an Android antitrust case with Russia

 
Lynsey Barber
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Google and Russian authorities have settled a two-year dispute (Source: Getty)

A long running battle between Google and Russian authorities over the Android operating system used on many popular smartphones has finally been settled.

The two-year dispute has now been settled out of court after Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) concluded in 2015 that the tech giant abused its market dominance by forcing phone makers to have Google apps on their devices.

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The settlement included Google agreeing that it remove any restrictions in agreements with manufacturers in the country and must let third party applications, including search engines, appear. The Google search bar will be replaced with a Chrome widget and Russian search engines will be able to appear on the screen.

That includes Yandex, the Russian internet firm and Google rival which first brought the complaint, which today welcomed the agreement as "an important day for Russian consumers".

"Now millions of Russian Android users will be offered a choice of search engines on their mobile devices. I am thankful to the Federal Antimonopoly Service for applying the law in a manner that effectively and efficiently restores competition to the market for the benefit of Russian users, as competition always breeds innovation," said Yandex chief executive Arkady Volozh.

The deal also includes a fine of 439m rouble (£6.2m) for Google, first handed down in late 2016.

“Implementation of the settlement’s terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications," said FAS head Igor Artemiev.

"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,” he said.

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Google faces a similar tussle with regulators in the EU, where competition chief Margrethe Vestager believes it broke competition rules.

She last year claimed Google required other smartphone makers to pre-install its search and browser apps and that it also stopped them from selling devices running on competing operating systems and claims that they were handed "financial incentives" by Google to put only Google's search on devices.

Google hit back at the charges, arguing it is the most "open, flexible, and differentiated of the mobile computing platforms".

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