Russia’s Regulators: Google Has Until November 18th To Play Fair

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Early last month, Russia’s FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service) stated that Google had violated Russian competition rules with its stock apps in Android. The folks complaining happen to be Google’s biggest competition in Russia…Yandex.

Today, the FAS announced that Google has until November 18 “to eliminate the violation of the law on protection of competition in terms of abuse of dominant position in the market pre-installed application stores in the operating system ‘Android.'”

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this post once we hear back.

Below is a statement from Yandex:

We are satisfied with the decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS) to recognise Google’s actions, as detailed in our complaint, as a violation of the antitrust law. Thousands of pages of evidence in this case included documents provided by Google, as well as documents provided by device manufacturers.

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. That fact that such restrictions have continually been tightening, led us to filing a request for investigation with Russia’s Antimonopoly Service.

Yandex and Google alike understand the needs of web users, and they both know how to provide a top-notch service. Professional competence of Google Russia’s team is beyond doubt, but why use restrictions or ban competition if one truly believes in the quality of their product?

We hope that the FAS’s ruling will help to restore fair competition on the market, but to what extent will depend on how this ruling will be executed. Additional measures might have to be taken unless the situation changes. 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.

Our position is strong and we intend to defend it in case of appeal at any level. This view is shared by a number of companies outside of Russia. Google has been under investigation by the European Commission for a few years already, with news having surfaced only a few days ago of the possibility of another case against the company in the US. We believe that with Google’s anticompetitive practices taking place in many countries, the situation has become serious enough to require a comprehensive approach.

Yandex leads Google as far as search goes, with over a 60 percent hold on the market in Russia. Mobile is another thing, and Yandex is trying to grab some share there, even sporting its own “App Store” for Android. Its browser for Android says it has somewhere between 10,000,000 – 50,000,000 installs, so this case is high stakes for the future of both companies.

November 18 is a tight schedule for anything, let along re-doing contracts with OEMs. As my colleague Alex Wilhelm said, “2010s google is SO 1990s msft.”