Google to no longer require bundled Android services in Russia

In Russia, Android users might be surprised to no longer see Google Search or other popular Google services in their new smartphones. That's because Google has settled with the Russian competition authorities after the tech giant has been found guilty of using its position as Android platform maker to push its own services to Android users. This status quo was challenged by its rivals, particularly Russian company Yandex, who gained a favorable ruling back in 2015. This unprecedented move opens the doors to Google's rivals not only in Russia but across Europe as well.

Google's legal battle in Russia may be years in the making, but the US-based company faces similar challenges across Europe. At the heart of the complaints thrown at Google is its bundling of its own services, like search and shopping, in Android devices, much to the detriment of local companies like Yandex, who has an equivalent to nearly every Google app and service.

This bundling is part of Google's certification process for Android devices. It defends this setup by saying how it provides value and a consistent experience to Android users. Plus, OEMs are always free not to ship with Google Play Services and Google's apps if they prefer to use some other third-party equivalent. However, unless they undergo Google's certification process, they won't be able to officially distribute Google's apps and services.

The Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service or FAS would have none of that. September 2015, it found Google guilty of anti-trust practices. Having failed to appel the decision, Google was find $6.75 million last year. To prevent further legal headaches, Google as agreed to stop requiring exclusivity of its services, especially search, in Android phone made in Russia. The agreement will be in effect for 6 years and 9 months and Google still has to pay a rather hefty fine.

Google's settlement could set a legal precedent across the European region, where it faces similar charges but for other services and businesses. Decoupling its services from Android could give its rivals ample chance to break Google's monopoly. It could, however, also provide Google ample data against its rivals should the new system prove to be ineffective in the long run.

SOURCE: Reuters