Google has so far benefited immensely by making Android inaccessible to rival built-in apps and search engines, but not anymore, or at least not in Russia anyway. After a two-year battle with Russia’s anti-monopoly agency, the U.S. firm has now agreed open up Android to rival applications and search engines in Russia.
Google loses some control over Android in Russia
Under the terms of the settlement, the search giant has agreed to be less controlling about what Android device manufacturers can do in the country. The Internet giant has not only agreed to allow Android phone manufacturers to change the default search engine but will also be paying a fine of $7.8 million.
In a statement, the search giant said it is pleased to announce that it has reached a settlement with FAS and a commercial agreement with Yandex, “resolving the competition case over the distribution of Google apps on Android.” The deal will remain valid for at least six years and nine months, notes Reuters.
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According to The Guardian, the U.S. firm will neither be allowed to prevent other companies’ apps from being pre-installed on devices, nor demand exclusivity of its apps on Android devices in Russia. Users in Russia will be allowed to change the default search engine to whatever they want.
This deal sets a new precedent for the tech giant, which has long resisted allowing the pre-installation of certain apps and rival search engines on its operating system. In 2015, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) ruled that the Internet company was breaching the law and abusing its power by restricting third-party manufacturers. The FAS also fined the Android maker in August 2016.
Yandex to benefit the most from the deal
Now rival companies like Yandex and regional competitors in Russia will get a fair chance to replace phones’ built-in apps with their own versions. Yandex runs the largest search engine in Russia and several other services there, including news, web mail, and maps.
The lawsuit was a result of a complaint brought by Yandex, also called the Google of Russia. Yandex is, no doubt, one of the major winners in this deal, as it will be able to reach agreements with phone makers to have its search engine pre-installed on Android devices. This will bolster Yandex’s expansion in the country and slow down Google’s expansion.
Arkady Volozh,chief executive officer of Yandex, called the settlement an important day as “millions of Russian Android users will be offered a choice of search engines. …It’s our desire to participate in a market where users can choose the best services available.”
Google will develop a tool as well to allow users to choose their default search engine on current and new Android phones.
The FAS said, “Users will be able to change settings at any time and choose the default search engine which suits their needs.”