Google fails in bid to overturn Russian “no default Android apps” ruling
The Moscow Arbitration Court upheld the competition regulator's decision, but Google can appeal.
In February 2015, Russian search engine Yandex asked the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (FAS) to initiate an antitrust investigation into Google’s control over Android. Specifically, Yandex charged that Google was given an unfair advantage through the required pre-installation of Google apps on Android handsets in Russia.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Moscow Arbitration Court this morning upheld FAS’s decision. Google apparently can still appeal and likely will.
As the ruling stands, however, Google may no longer require handset makers and telecom companies operating in Russia to pre-install any apps as a condition of access to Google Play. FAS is requiring Google to alter its Android contracts accordingly. Failure to comply could mean potential fines of up to 15 percent of Google’s 2014 Russian revenues.
After its Russian victory, Yandex took the same complaint to the European Commission, which already had an ongoing Android antitrust investigation. Last week Bloomberg reported that an Android-related Statement of Objections (formal complaint) was about to be filed by the Commission. While more issues are being examined in the European context, pre-installed app rules is one of the central issues.
Google has maintained that any antitrust investigation of Android is unwarranted because the operating system is open-source and freely available to anyone.
Last November, a group of roughly 140 Android developers, under the coordination of an organization called the Application Developers Alliance, sent a letter to the European Commission advising it not to take any action that could minimize Google’s control over Android and create more fragmentation.