Sunday, 30 April 2017

Google settles Russia antitrust dispute

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Tuesday 18 April 17

Internet giant agrees to give Android users a choice of default search engines.

Google this week agreed to allow rival search engines to be pre-installed on Android phones sold in Russia. The concession is part of a settlement of a two-year-long dispute between Google parent Alphabet and Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS)…

Google this week agreed to allow rival search engines to be pre-installed on Android phones sold in Russia.

The concession is part of a settlement of a two-year-long dispute between Google parent Alphabet and Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).

In September 2015, Russia concluded that Google's practice of prohibiting device makers from pre-installing applications that compete with its own was in violation of the country's competition law.

Under the deal, announced on Monday, Google has agreed to stop demanding that Android phone makers exclusively pre-install Google applications, and that they are placed on the device's home screen.

Instead, Google will develop – within a few months – a new Chrome widget that will replace the standard Google search widget on the home screen. When the user first launches it, they will be given a 'choice screen' listing a selection of default search engines.

"This choice screen enables users to choose Yandex search or Google search or any other search engine of those developers who will sign a commercial agreement on their inclusion to the choice screen," FAS said.

Users will be able to update their default search settings at any time. Google has agreed to roll out the changes to existing Android users as an update.

"This makes the applications pre-installation channel on mobile devices open for application developers who will get equal rights and opportunities to access the devices on the territory of the Russian Federation," said FAS.

As part of Monday's settlement, Google has agreed to pay a fine totalling 438.07 million roubles (€7.29 million).

"Apart from restoring conditions for competition in the market of mobile applications, the implementation of the settlement will enable consumers to buy devices with the software that better corresponds to their expectations," FAS said.

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