Google Reaches Deal With Russia Over Android

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Yandex will now be able to reach agreements with phone manufacturers to have its search engine preinstalled on Android phones, which can slow Google's expansion in Russian Federation and bolster its own.

Google and Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) have settled the antitrust case focused on the pre-installation of Google apps on Android handsets. Google is battling against similar anti-trust cases in the European Union, where BT recently took the search giant's side.

It will also develop a tool allowing users to choose a default search engine on their Android devices.

On September 29, Google started to notify Russian users of the Android devices about the possibility of changing the search engine, deactivating pre-installed applications, installing third-party services (including third-party search engines and widgets, email, calendar, and other services) and changing position of application icons.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its apps on Android devices in Russian Federation.

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Google's commercial settlement with Yandex is separate from its legal settlement with the regulator. They are also working on a Chrome widget for future devices. The FAS Russia, driven by the necessity to eliminate consequences of the violation and to restore competition in the market, agreed to sign the settlement agreement.

As part of the settlement, Google will pay 439 million roubles (around $7.85 million) in fines. Any developer that signs a "commercial agreement" with Google can be included - Yandex is the first to sign up. The addition of a choice window provides users with the opportunity to choose their default search engine. I suspect it will have only a limited impact on most Google apps.

According to the regulator, Google obliged manufacturers of Android OS-based devices to pre-install its applications together with Android platform.

"Implementation of the settlement's terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications", said FAS head Igor Artemiev. "The settlement's execution will have a positive effect on the market as a whole, while giving developers additional options for promoting their products".