Google has reached a settlement deal with Russia that'll compel it to open up its Android operating system to competing search engines in the country, according to reports. The deal caps Google's two-year dispute with Russian competition authorities regarding its antitrust practices.
What The Deal Means For Google In Russia
Apart from paying a steep fine of $7.8 million, Google will also be ordered to allow Russian phone manufacturers to change the search engine on their handsets to anything other than Google. The manufacturers, therefore, won't be locked to Google's proprietary services if they produce Android-based devices moving forward.
As part of the deal, Google will also not be granted app exclusivity or be allowed to prevent preinstalled third-party apps on phones, the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, or FAS, said Monday, April 17.
The deal marks a conclusion to the search company's perceived abuse of its dominant position. The claim stems from Google's restrictions on phone manufacturers of Android-based devices, the upshot of which, claims say, is to protect the company's own online search foothold.
Is Google Abusing Its Dominant Position? Russia Thinks So
Android, no secret, is an open platform. But while that's true, other parts of the OS aren't as open, such as the Play Store. This has allowed Google to implement tight conditions on manufacturers who want to have access to Google's colossal library of apps.
The FAS counted this as an abuse of Google's dominant position. To that end, the regulator has been scrutinizing, investigating, and suing Google for the past two years. The settlement is, of course, a culmination of this longstanding dispute.
"Implementation of the settlement's terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications," said Igor Artemiev, head of FAS. "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."
In addition to the aforementioned requisites, Google will also develop a tool that'll allow users to select which search engine on their Android devices best fits their needs. FAS says users can change the settings at any time.
Google has spoken about the settlement, saying it met the interest of all involved parties. Furthermore, the company also said it has reached a deal with Yandex, offering it opportunities to promote the search engine via Chrome browsers.
"We are happy to have reached a commercial agreement with Yandex and a settlement with Russia's competition regulator, the [FAS], resolving the competition case over the distribution of Google apps on Android."
Yandex is one of the biggest benefactors of the deal, and it was also one of the companies which gave the antitrust case legs, having launched a complaint against Google in the past. Yandex will now be able to enter talks with phone manufacturers and convince them to have its search engine preinstalled on their phones. Needless to say that this can slow down Google's growth in the country.
Google's Perceived Antitrust Behavior
But the deal has wider implications than Russia alone. In fact, other countries have also been investigating Google's antitrust behavior, as exemplified by Europe's Android probe. That, however, has been rebuked by Google, saying it preloads apps to compete with rival platforms.
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