Google Reaches Android Antitrust Settlement In Russia

Google's antitrust battle with the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) led by Russian search rival Yandex came to a close Monday with the Mountain View, California company reaching an out-of-court deal.

As part of the agreement, Google will develop a tool that allows users to choose a default search engine on Android devices -- no longer demanding exclusivity for its applications, according to the FAS Web site.

The devices running Android currently being used in the Russian Federation territory will receive a "selection Window" for the Chrome browser after the next software update that will give users a choice to change their setting to run another search engine. The change will open opportunities for applications developers who have should have equal rights and opportunities for the devices that run on the Android operating system, per the FSA.

The news, first reported by Reuters, suggests that the term of the deal is for 81 months.

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The FAS in August 2016 imposed a $7.8 million fine for violating local competition rules, which stems from a ruling in 2015 that Google abused its search-market dominance.

The financial loss of non-exclusivity will be more difficult to bear compared with the multimillion-dollar fine. "Competition breeds innovation," Yandex CEO and co-founder Arkady Volozh wrote in a blog post. He outlined the events that took place since the filing and explained Yandex's "desire to participate in a market where users can choose the best services available."

Some 55 million Russian Android users now will have a choice of search engines on their mobile devices, per the terms of the agreement. Smartphone manufacturers also will have more freedom to select the apps they preinstall on devices.

In the early 2000s, Yandex requested the FAS initiate an investigation into Google’s business practices, and in 2015 the organization found Google’s practices to be anti-competitive and in violation of Russian antitrust laws.

Prior to this ruling, Google required Android smartphone manufacturers to ship devices with the Google search as the default engine and place the Google search widget on the default home screen, and limited the placement of competing applications on Android devices. 

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