Ruling Reached In Google Antitrust Case In Russia

The Russian search engine Yandex has had a major victory over Google in a long-running antitrust campaign over its Android operating system. The FAS, Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service, has reached a settlement with the global search giant which will see Google open up its Android platform in Russia and offer Russian Android users a choice of search engine on their mobile device. The initial complaint was filed by Yandex in 2015 and centred around Google's requirement for Android manufacturers to ship devices with the Google Search app already pre-installed, as well as its limitations on the placement of competitor apps. The terms of the settlement include Google ceasing to demand exclusivity for its app on Android devices and stopping all restrictions against competitor search engines or apps. For those devices already in circulation, Google will develop a choice window for Chrome, which will appear during routine updates and enable users to select their preferred default search engine. This will be expanded to new devices within the next couple of months, and any search engine will be able to apply for inclusion in this from 60 days after the settlement has been approved by the court. Google will also pay $7.8 million in fines. Yandex itself has hailed the move, with CEO Arkady Volozh saying, “I am thankful to the Federal Antimonopoly Service for applying the law in a manner that effectively and efficiently restores competition to the market for the benefit of Russian users”. He also thanked Google, “not only for their cooperation, but also for recognising the value of openness”. As the leading search engine in Russia, with around 54% market share, this result is hugely significant for Yandex, as well as international businesses targeting the region, as Webcertain's Justyna Wilner explains: “The number of people using mobile devices not only for browsing the internet but buying online has been rapidly growing in Russia especially over the last 5 years. With Android being the most popular operating system amongst the mobile users in the country, reaching around 55 million users, fair competition in the field of mobile search was of utter importance for the local, dominant search engine Yandex. This settlement means that digital marketers should now closely observe the possible changes in the Russian mobile search market share arena since more choice may equal to potential user behaviour changes as well as improved offering.” The significance of this ruling stretches wider than just Russian borders. Google is currently under investigation by other countries and regions, such as the EU, Turkey and South Korea. The EU investigation is considering very similar concerns as covered in the Russian case and the decision in Moscow will give weight to the complaints.