Skip to main content

Russia accuses Google of not playing fair on mobile

google makes hangouts calls to france free in aftermath of paris attacks logo feature
Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) today announced a ruling in the case against Google’s Android operating system, originally filed by competing search engine Yandex.

The complaint, filed in February this year, said Google was using its dominant position in the mobile market to stifle competition of user-centric services such as search, maps, and email.

Related Videos

FAS appears to agree, with a guilty verdict cast down on Google earlier this week. The Russian authority has 10 business days to issue a full ruling, including Google’s charges and what it has to do to continue operating in Russia.

Google said it hasn’t received the ruling, but said “When we do we will study it and determine our next steps.”

Google’s current process for Android is “all-or-nothing”, either you take all of Google’s services, which includes the Google Play store, or you use a degraded bunch of apps from the Android Open Source Platform.

For most providers, the option is clear, but manufacturers and services are becoming increasingly annoyed by Google’s approach. The Google Play store is necessary for mobile, but most manufacturers would happily remove over half of the other services that come alongside it, if they had the choice.

Russian manufacturers tried to push Yandex as the default search engine, but were forced by Google to swap, despite over 80 percent of Russians using Yandex as their default search provider.

“Although the European Commission has already begun a formal investigation in relation to these same practices, Russia is the first jurisdiction to have officially recognized these practices as anti-competitive,” a Yandex spokeswoman said. “We believe the FAS’s decision will serve to restore competition on the market.”

Google already removed all engineers out of Russia, after the government announced plans to keep all information on Russian users stored on government owned servers. By having no physical presence in the country, Google managed to avoid the request for information.

However, Russia is still a large market in which Google would like to continue working. It puts the company in an awkward position, where it may need to accept the terms and allow Yandex to be preinstalled by carriers and manufacturers in Russia. This could cause a knock-on effect, where manufacturers in other countries ask why they aren’t receiving the same privileges.

While this wouldn’t be bad for the industry, it would remove Google’s ability to push its own services above all others on Android.

Google faces similar charges in Europe, after the European Commission announced its second antitrust lawsuit against the search giant. Android will be included in this lawsuit and may be Google’s downfall, since they claim it is an open-source platform. In the U.K., Google also received negative press for skipping corporation tax, forcing U.K. Chancellor George Osborne to announce the Google tax for multinational corporations.

Apple’s own mobile platform, iOS, might remove some preinstalled services in the near future. In an interview earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook said the company is looking into ways to remove those services or not have them preinstalled.

This would allow a more open arrangement of apps for the end user. Instead of being forced to keep Apple Music or Gmail on the device, users can swap for their personal preference, without having to make enough room for both apps.

Editors' Recommendations

Here’s how Google Search plans to tackle clickbait
A laptop rests on a bench outside with google search open on-screen.

Because Google knows that we all hate clickbait, the company will soon be taking steps to tackle this problem in Google search results. Starting globally next week for searches using English, Google will aim to reduce the ranking for offending websites while simultaneously rewarding those that create original, high-quality content.

Clickbait is often seen in advertisements that make bold or even outrageous claims in the hopes that you'll be intrigued enough to click the ad so you can learn more. Search results can also be misleading and inspire a click based on an interesting title and snippet.

Read more
Play ‘spot the difference’ with Google’s new Play Store logo
Google's redesigned Google Play logo.

Google Play, the app store where you likely get most of your Android apps, has turned 10 years old and to celebrate the anniversary, Google has thrown out the old logo and given the online store an entirely new one. Well, when we say “entirely new,” we may be pushing it a little, as the new Google Play logo is still a multi-colored triangle resembling a traditional play button, so don’t expect a huge change.

New Play logo (left) and old Play logo (right)

Read more
Google Play Store now offers third-party app payments, but only for some users
The Google Play store icon on an Android phone.

Google will now open up its Play Store as a result of the European Union's Digital Markets Act, the company announced today. Now, any developers distributing apps or games in Europe (the European Economic Area, to be precise) will be able to sidestep the Google Play billing system with no penalty. The change comes after a similar push in South Korea.

"As of today, Google will not remove or reject updates of non-gaming apps from participating developers for offering alternative billing systems for EEA users. Google Play’s billing system will continue to be required for apps and games distributed via Play to users outside the EEA and for games distributed to users within the EEA. We expect to expand billing alternatives to developers of gaming apps for their users in the EEA, in advance of the DMA's effective date," Google's Estelle Werth, director of EU Government Affairs and Public Policy, said in a blog post.

Read more