Google and Russia’s competition watchdog reached a settlement on a long-running Android dispute, intended to “ensure competition on markets of mobile applications, especially mobile search”.
In a statement, Igor Artemiev, head of Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), said: “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.”
Google was first accused of “abusing market dominance” in Russia in September 2015. The case related to its practices with the Android operating system, including a requirement vendors place Google’s apps front and centre.
A major thorn in Google’s side was Russian search engine Yandex, which saw its market share eroded as traffic shifted to mobile. It even went as far as offering its own Android fork for the Russian market, but the effort came to nothing amid reports of Google exerting its influence.
In a statement, the FAS outlined a number of changes, including: that Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its apps on Android devices in Russia; and will not restrict pre-installation of any competing search engines or apps, including on the default home screen.
The US giant will also not enforce parts of previously-signed agreements which contradict the terms of the settlement.
For devices already in the market, Google will develop an active “choice window” for the Chrome browser which, at the time of the next update, will provide users with a choice of default search engine. A new Chrome widget will also replace the standard Google search widget on the home screen of new devices, which will also offer users the choice of search provider.
Google will be “committed to securing the rights of third parties to include their search engines into the choice window”.
The watchdog said in addition to restoring conditions from competition, the moves will enable customers to buy devices with software which better meets their expectations.