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Google Settles In Russian Legal Battle

Google Settles In Russian Legal Battle

Google has settled in its legal battle with Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service, caving to demands that it should do more to make Android accessible to domestic competition.

The FAS initiated the case in February after local player Yandex filed a complaint against the search engine giant, eventually fining Google $6.8 million back in August 2016 over the issue.

Now, as a result of the settlement deal, Google has pledged to no longer “demand exclusivity of its applications on Android-based devices in Russia.”

A statement published by the FAS says that “Google will be obliged not to restrict pre-installation of any competing search engines and applications (including on the default home screen); Google will refrain from stimulating pre-installation of the Google search as the only general search engine; Google will no longer enforce the parts of the previously signed agreements that contradict to the terms of the settlement; finally, Google will be committed to securing the rights of the third parties to include their search engines into the choice window.”

“Implementation of the settlement’s terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications. 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,” summarized Igor Artemiev, Head of the FAS Russia.

Yandex’s CEO was similarly positive about the result, writing on the company’s blog that “today is an important day for Russian consumers as Google has agreed to take significant steps that open up its Android platform in Russia.  Under the terms of the settlement, 55 million Russian Android users will be offered a choice of search engines on their mobile devices.  Smartphone manufacturers will also have more freedom to select the apps that they preinstall on devices.”

Google has yet to formally comment. However, this decision to deal with local players and break away from Android long-standing policy of putting Google’s own software apps front and center could have impacts both within and outside of Russia.

Looking towards the future, it’s possible Google’s decision to settle here and make deals with local tech players could set a precedent for the similar charges filed against them in the EU.

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