Russia demands Google fix ‘anticompetitive’ Android

Russia cries fowl on Google
Russia cries fowl on Google

Google faces hefty fines in Russia after the country's antimonopoly agency deemed some features of the U.S. search giant's Android mobile operating system (OS) anticompetitive.

The FAS's ruling centers on the way Google's services and applications, such as Google Play, are pre-installed and displayed on Android devices.

The regulator takes issue with the fact that when a device manufacturer opts to use Android to run their system, they must install the Google Play store – granting users access to hundreds of thousands of Android apps – and prominently display other of the U.S. online giant's services. Manufacturers are also not allowed to install competing apps, FAS says.

One month deadline

Yandex, a domestic search competitor and dominant player in Russia, brought the case against Google. But it has been losing market share as an increasing number of people buy low-cost Android phones in Russia that come pre-installed with Google search. Android has a 76.6 percent smartphone market share in Russia, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

If Google makes the changes that the FAS is demanding, it will allow other app developers, such as Yandex, get some of their own services and software pre-installed on Android devices.

The Google sign outside of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
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The U.S. search titan has until November 18 to make amendments or could face fines of up to 15 percent of its revenue gained from mobile applications in Russia.

Google did not respond to a CNBC request for comment.

"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," Yandex said in a statement.

"What would solve the problem, as we see it, is an opportunity for users to choose service provider right when they are setting up a new device," the Russian firm added.

EU, US investigations

Google's clash with the Russian authorities is the latest in a long line of battles with regulators. The European Commission, the European Union's (EU) executive arm, is also looking into whether Google has "illegally hindered the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, mobile communication applications and services".

The EU is also investigating whether Google displayed its own shopping price comparison service more prominently than its rivals.

And in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice are also investigating whether Google gave priority to its own services on Android, while stifling access to others.