Update, February 20: Russia’s anti-trust regulator FAS has now officially opened a case against Google, at the request of Yandex.
Original article below…
Russian Internet giant Yandex has asked its home country’s antitrust body to investigate Google over the way it forces its own services on Android devices.
Yandex has filed a request with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia today, and is awaiting the official opening of the case, as first reported today by Tech.eu. Yandex says that while Android is often presented as an “open” platform, the reality is somewhat different.
“Manufacturers of Android-powered devices are locked into the proprietary Google Play application store and closed APIs,” Yandex said in a statement. “In order to install Google Play on their devices, device manufacturers are required to preinstall the entire suite of Google GMS (Google Mobile Services) services, and set Google as the default search. In addition to that, device manufacturers are increasingly prohibited from installing any services from Google’s competitors on their devices.”
Of course, Yandex is one such competitor, and it says that three of its smartphone partners — Prestigio, Fly and Explay — informed them in 2014 that they were prohibited from preinstalling Yandex services on their Android devices.
“Chances are high that Google will continue this practice,” continued Yandex. “It is not only Yandex or other large developers, whose services compete with Google’s, that are under threat, but also the device manufacturers. But ultimately, it is the end-users who suffer because of inferior services.”
This move mirrors similar investigations elsewhere in the world, perhaps most notably in Europe, where companies including Microsoft and Nokia have previously filed antitrust complaints with regulators, arguing that Google’s own services receive an unfair advantage by being bundled with Google’s mobile operating system. At the crux of the complaint is the “default” placement of the services, which, it is argued, effectively shuts out rivals.
“We believe that device manufacturers should have a choice as to which search provider to set as the default or which services to have preinstalled on the device,” added Yandex. “Google should not prevent manufacturers from preinstalling competitor apps. This is why we are talking about the need to unbundle Google’s Android operating system from Google Search and its other end-user services.”
Though Google and Yandex are now at loggerheads in relation to Android, the two companies have previously worked together, including an ad partnership announced last year. While there is clear synergy and mutual interests between the two companies, Android’s domination of the smartphone market in many countries — with 86 percent of phones in Russia using the OS — is clearly a growing concern.
There is a rising push against Google within Europe, and the upshot of the ongoing cases brought to the European Commission (EC) and now by Yandex in Russia could eventually lead to Android being separated from core Google services such as Search, Maps, and Gmail.