Oct 6th, 2015

Another day, another antitrust issue with Google. This time, Russia has ordered the Mountain View company to alter their OEM licensing agreement clause which forces manufacturers to bundle Google’s services if they want access to Google Play. The change must be made by November 18th, says Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service.

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The source of the ruling began with a complaint issued by Yandex, Russia’s leading online search platform, who felt Google was unfairly using their platform to give them a competitive edge. The investigation found that Google also prohibited OEMs from pre-installing competing services, in some instances.

Yandex was clearly pleased with the ruling:

We are satisfied with the decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS) to recognise Google’s actions, as detailed in our complaint, as a violation of the antitrust law. Thousands of pages of evidence in this case included documents provided by Google, as well as documents provided by device manufacturers.

Our goal is to return fair play to the market – when apps are preinstalled on mobile devices based on how good or how popular they are rather than due to restrictions imposed by the owner of the operating system. That fact that such restrictions have continually been tightening, led us to filing a request for investigation with Russia’s Antimonopoly Service.

Yandex and Google alike understand the needs of web users, and they both know how to provide a top-notch service. Professional competence of Google Russia’s team is beyond doubt, but why use restrictions or ban competition if one truly believes in the quality of their product?

They have a good point there at the end, but one would be quick to argue that all of this should be fair play regardless. It’s Google’s product, after all, and OEMs don’t have guns pointed at them forcing them to agree to the terms.

That said, this could set an interesting precedent for Google’s antitrust troubles in other regions. The company is being investigated for much of the same here in the US, and while Russia’s ruling doesn’t directly impact the outcome of America’s findings, it’s a sure bet it’ll be looked at by regulators as they look to come to a conclusion on all of this. Should the US come to the same conclusion there’s sure to be an uptick in these investigations the world over.

Our take? Just drop the apps, Google. We love them, but we all know where to find them, and the clause forcing OEMs to bundle them is causing you and Android a lot more trouble than it should.

[via TechCrunch]

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