Antitrust Probe In Russia Finds Google Guilty Of “Market Abuse”

Apparently Russian regulators are much more efficient than their U.S. and European counterparts. According to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service said Google has been been determined to be guilty in a Russian antitrust investigation that began just months ago.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service began an investigation into search giant Google early this year for alleged anticompetitive practices regarding how the firm “bundles” certain apps with its dominant Android mobile operating system.

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According to the WSJ source, the U.S. firm was found guilty of the charge of “abusing its dominant market position,” but not of the second charge of “unfair competition practices.”

The Russian regulatory agency now has 10 business days to issue its complete ruling on the case.

“We haven’t yet received the ruling,“ Google’s spokeswoman for Russia noted on Monday afternoon. “When we do, we will study it and determine our next steps.”

Analysts point out that Google has bogged down in an antitrust in Europe for almost five years. The decision from the FAS comes a mere seven months after the investigation was first announced, and it looks like a definite loss for the tech titan at this point.

Russia’s Yandex originated complaint against Google

The probe into Google’s bundling practices stemmed from a complaint from Russia’s biggest Internet firm, Yandex, which claimed Google was using unfair practices that in effect shut its browser out of the Android smartphone software bundles sold by Google.

Yandex noted on Monday that it “welcomes the positive decision by FAS which has figured out this complicated case and having studied the proof, has confirmed Google’s violations.”

A spokesman for the firm said the company “believes that [the] FAS decision will help restore competition on the market.”

Depending on the details of the ruling, Google could be ordered to alter its deals with phone and other device manufacturers to help allay the concerns of Yandex and others. There could also be a substantial fine involved.

Google noted in statement earlier this year that device manufacturers “are free to install the apps they choose, and consumers always have complete control over the apps on their devices.”

However, device makers that pre-install Yandex apps informed the firm last year that they were “no longer able to pre-install Yandex services,” such as Yandex’s search and map apps on Google’s Android devices. That led to Yandex filing a complaint with the Russian antitrust authorities.