Google resolves Russian anti-trust dispute with €7m fine, OS changes

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Google has been fined more than €7 million by Russian regulators for the "anti-competitive" pre-installation of its apps onto Android devices.

The country's Federal Antimonopoly Service made the ruling on Monday after finding Google ensured rivals could not pre-install their own applications onto smartphones running its operating system.

Russian smartphone manufacturers would only get access to the Google Play app store if it hit pre-conditions such as pre-installing Android apps including Google Play, placing them prominently on a handset's home screen and making Google the default search engine.

Following the ruling, which marks the end of a two-year legal process, Google said it will no longer demand exclusivity and pre-installation for its apps and search engine, it will take down any barriers for competing apps and services to be pre-installed on a handset's home screen, and will allow rivals to be included in options to set default search.

New Android devices will have a dedicated widget offering a choice of search product, including Russia's Yandex.

Current Android users will be asked to select their default search engine from a range of options upon the next update of the operating system. 

Igor Artemiev, Head of the FAS Russia, said: “Implementation of the settlement’s terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications.

"We managed to find a balance between the necessity to develop the Android ecosystem and interests of third-party developers for promoting their mobile applications and services on Android-based devices.

"The settlement’s execution will have a positive effect on the market as a whole, while giving developers additional options for promoting their products."

This year has witnessed a flurry of disagreements within the telco space, some resulting in legal actions and fines.

Apple and Qualcomm are at loggerheads over withheld payments and Google moved to smooth relationships with smartphone manufacturers over patents.