Google Will Fight Russian Antitrust “No Mandatory Apps” Ruling
Google pushes back on "unfounded" decision by Russian regulators.
Seeking to avoid a potential “precedent” that might be emulated elsewhere, Google will challenge the Russian antitrust agency’s determination that it violated Russian competition law with its Android app rules. Yandex complained that Google was violating Russian competition law by requiring pre-installed or default Google apps on Android.
In late September, Russian regulators agreed with Yandex and handed down their ruling giving Google until November 18 to amend its contracts to remove app pre-installation requirements. Now it appears that deadline has been extended to December 18.
Reuters quotes Google’s Russian blog saying, “We intend to contest this decision and explain in court why we consider it unfounded.” This position is consistent with a more aggressive approach Google is taking in Europe in contesting the European Commission’s Statement of Objections on Shopping Search.
A couple of years ago it appeared that Google might be able to negotiate its way out of these antitrust disputes but that no longer seems possible. Accordingly, Google is being compelled to challenge skeptical or even hostile regulators in a number of jurisdictions around the world.
In the recent past I have asserted that the Russian “no mandatory apps” decision is a likely model for regulators in other countries investigating Android. In response Google pointed out to me that in 2013 the South Korean equivalent of the US Fair Trade Commission dropped a very similar Android antitrust case against the company.
In that case the complaining parties NHN Corp. and Daum held larger markets shares in South Korea than Google. Thus it’s unclear which instance is more persuasive: Russia’s or South Korea’s. Regardless, it’s fairly clear that the European Commission will be more inclined to look to Russia than South Korea by analogy.