Google is facing another antitrust investigation, this time from Russia following a complaint by a Russia-based search engine company.
Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has initiated a formal probe into the search engine giant over possible antitrust violations after a request made by Russian rival Yandex.
Yandex is accusing Google of abusing its market position to force device manufacturers to pre-install several of the company's apps into their products and set Google as the default search engine.
A spokeswoman for the FAS said that after studying the complaint, the agency has decided to begin proceedings on a possible violation of antitrust regulations by Google.
Yandex, a direct competitor of Google, owns almost a 60 percent share of the search engine market in Russia. However, its market share for searches made on Android-based devices is only about 44 percent, which has decreased from 52 percent last year.
Yandex is claiming that Google locks device manufacturers into the app store of Google. To be able to install Google Play, companies are required to pre-install the complete suite of Google Mobile Services, including Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps and other apps by Google.
In addition, Google allegedly blocks apps by its rivals from being pre-installed on devices running the Android operating system. Yandex claims, as an example, that three of the company's partner smartphone sellers, namely Explay, Fly and Prestigio, told Yandex last year that they could not pre-install Yandex apps on Android-based devices due to a policy of Google.
The probe by the Russian agency is the latest one launched against Google amid claims that the company places restrictions on manufacturers of Android devices.
The European Commission sent out questionnaires last year to device manufacturers to ask if there were any deals made with Google that required "exclusivity." Regulators in Europe require such information to determine whether Google is abusing its market position to promote the company's own services among Android devices.
In the United States, a lawsuit has also been filed against Google by two individuals that claim that the company is forcing manufacturers of Android devices to make Google's apps the default ones, limiting the apps of rival companies. If the judge presiding the case moves forward with it, the lawsuit could become a class action lawsuit that would allow for additional complainants.
Google, however, has denied all allegations of monopolizing the apps installed in Android-based devices.
"Device makers are free to install the apps they choose and consumers always have complete control over the apps on their devices," stated Google.