Google loses Russian court appeal against anti-monopoly ruling

by: John DyeMarch 14, 2016
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So back in September, Yandex, which is a Russian search engine, looked around the Russian mobile market and saw that it was inundated with Android devices. All of these devices came with Google apps pre-installed, which seriously cut Yandex’s chances of remaining competitive. The company filed a complaint against the American search company through the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), and the court ruled that search giant’s operating system should not come bundled with other Google services. Google, naturally appealed the ruling.

Today that appeal was denied. Moscow’s Arbitration Court upheld the decision made by FAS, even going so far as to say that they “fully support” the ruling and that it served the benefit of leading “to the prohibition of pre-installation of apps of other producers” as well.

Yandex_StoreSee also: Yandex takes on Google with an alternative Android app store5

This puts everyone’s favorite polychromatic search engine in something of a pickle, because now they’re staring down the barrel of a serious fine if they don’t radically change their business model in the world’s geographically largest country. Tough as that situation may be, it’s also a potentially heavy blow in another battle of public perception that the search giant is waging over in Europe. The European Commission has lately been formally investigating Google to determine whether or not their methods with Android constitute anticompetitive behavior. In both of these issues, Google remains insistent that they haven’t violated any antitrust rules.

You might be wondering how big of a fine Russia would have to level at Google to make a company so large flinch. The grand total right now stands at 15% of the 2014 revenue for preloaded apps in Russia. That ain’t peanuts.

What are your thoughts regarding these recent antitrust, monopoly concerns? Is the sultan of search guilty of anticompetitive behavior, or are users given enough freedom to move away from the preinstalled applications? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

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  • Ashish Patel

    screw russia those scumbags. they cant compete with google so they want to fine them

    • Not even close… They are just short of money and will fine everyone they can- today Google, tomorrow Apple. next week is M$ turn…

  • Donald

    Isn’t Apple, then, also a monopoly? I mean they ship all of their phones with Siri, you can’t use any other personal assistant. I think it’s perfectly okay for a company to ship it’s operating system with it’s default apps. Windows 10 ships with Cortana and Bing, Apple has Siri, Android has Google. Besides, it’s not like you’re not allowed to install another search engine on Android.

    • Sherpa

      It’s all about the money. Since Android is more popular in Russia, they are targeting Google first.

    • Jordan

      Amazon as well.

  • Lim Ming Quan

    This is just ridiculous. I use apps I like and find useful, not because they’re preintsalled or not.

    • Sherpa

      While I agree with you and I do the same, there are many people who just use what comes with the phone.

  • Saif Osman

    That is pure bullshit, Android is open source for a reason, if that russian search company is so bothered that Google is installing Google services on Android, then why don’t they just make an Android phone with their services on it? Besides, Apple (icloud, siri, etc.) and Windows (microsoft office, Cortana, etc.) do the same thing But no seems to be attacking them!

    • DDD

      Uh, this exact thing happened to Microsoft with Internet Explorer actually. And they lost that court battle. Windows doesn’t come preloaded and Cortana isn’t bundled with anything else.

      • Robert Bray

        Not quite.

        Windows and IE were one.

        Taking it further, IE was deeply ingrained in Windows. You couldn’t remove it without breaking other things.

        Google Apps are not required, legally or technically, for Android to run. If they ever have been, have not been for the best part of five years.

        However, with the exception of Amazon, the vast majority of manufacturers have chosen to install Gapps, which is a completely separate product with its own extra terms and conditions.

        • DDD

          You’re right there, but that’s not exactly how I was thinking about it. I was equating the Play Store to Windows and the rest as IE. Looking at it now, it’s probably not as great of an example, as there are several differences, notably Microsoft explicitly working against other browsers.

  • AbbyZFresh

    Well, it’s over for Google. The EU and India are sure to follow soon after this.

  • gosbiker

    You buy a smartphone (IOS, Windows, Android, other) to use straight outta the box, then customise with preferable or better apps after, but if a phone comes without a search engine(Google), app store(Google Play) or Web browser(Google Chrome) how are the masses of people who want a phone they can use straight out of the box, and aren’t tech savvy going to manage to get the apps they need to be able to use the phone? It’ll be like buying a car without wheels and an engine.

    • Toukale

      Not really, Microsoft currently have to give users options when they first launch a browser, explorer and bing are not on by default on windows pc’s in EU. Those are the things you have to deal with when your product (android) holds the market shares percentage. Apple does some stuff that can be considered anti competitive, but they are in the teen as far as market shares are concerned so that gives them some cover to get away with it so far.

      • gosbiker

        In you first sentence you say Microsoft have to give users options when they first launch a browser, implying that a browser is pre installed… Nothing is stopping OEMS installing their own, or 3rd party browsers alongside googles. I have had several android phones in the past with 2 browsers pre installed. All the PCs I have had in the UK has had IE pre installed, and heavily pushed me to use bing for search engine. And, OEMs can choose to use android without having google apps, albeit without the full support of google and without google play, but that hasn’t done the amazon fire tablets any harm, and again, with android, users can download google alternatives like amazon app store or puffin browser or yandex if they wanted. But to supply a phone without the basic tools like a browser and search engne is silly… Remember that OEMs CHOOSE to use android OS and consumers CHOOSE to buy them.

        • Toukale

          I think you are missing the point of all this. Right now if any oem’s want official support access to the playstore, they have to install all of Google’s services or they can’t get access to the playstore. Meaning it’s all or nothing. What the court is saying you can’t do that, android has a market share monopoly, and the playstore is the official store for android. None of those 3rd party stores we have all over the place.

          It is not the regulators job to protect Google’s business model, which is what Google is doing here. They want to enjoyed all the benefits of open without any of the competition to their business model.

          • gosbiker

            I’m not missing the point, I know that google ‘sell’ their apps as an all or nothing package, however, most companies sell things as a package… Microsoft office, sky TV, etc… So that is nothing new, especially if its all designed to work together, look how well all apples iOS apps work together. At the end of the day though it should be up to the OEMs to decide if they want to take up googles android and googles official play store, or develop their own version of android and create or use another app store, several OEMs have done that, most notably amazon with their fire OS and their official app store, the thing is, although the apps are preinstalled you as an end user don’t have to use them, and OEMs have the right to preinstall alternatives. If yandex is such a great app then it would shine on its own merits and OEMs would preintall it themselves anyhow… (Nokia used to preinstall opera browser) . And if google didn’t want competition they wouldn’t allow a choice of browsers and search engines on google play.

          • DDD

            Office doesn’t come preloaded on Windows. It’s not even free. If Office is on the system when you boot it up, it was the OEM that installed it. iOS’s apps don’t work well because they work together; it’s because they’re optimized for the OS itself.
            And we all know OEMs aren’t going to develop their own appstores and other replacements. It’s a horrible workaround.

          • gosbiker

            I didn’t say office came preloaded on windows, but when you buy office you get word, excel, PowerPoint etc included as a package, you don’t buy them separately and even if you don’t use one or more of them you have no choice but to buy them. I know iOS apps are optimized for the OS, but they still have to work together at some point don’t they? ( I admit I’m not an iOS expert) and at one time a lot of big OEMs had their own, admittedly pathetic, app store, and as I said companies like amazon have done that which can be used by most android based devices, but if google are forced to remove their apps then that maybe the future.

  • Toukale

    Lots of confuse folks here as usual. First of all Apple is the only oem and seller of IOS and iPhone, you do not have 50 different vendors shipping IOS or iPhone products. Second, the problem is with the contract google have in place for oem’s if they want access to the playstore. It basically said, if you want to officially have access to the playstore, you must ship your devices with all of our others services. I am surprise Google did not think this would eventually be an issue once all the good times were over. They are basically forcing those oem’s to ship their devices with Google’s services apps.

    • projectmisha

      Then make your own appstore! No one is forcing them to use Google’s Appstore to use Android, just Google’s flavor of it.

      • Toukale

        The courts and regulators don’t think so. Ask Microsoft how that worked out for them when anyone could easily download Netscape and use it instead.

        • projectmisha

          I don’t care what a judge or court say. They are wrong all the time. We are talking here about what is right and wrong, not what corrupt courts say (especially ones in Russia, which curtails basic freedoms at every step)

          • Toukale

            So, you don’t care about what the courts or a judge say, you just care about what is right, ok. Google figured it would be beneficial to them to clone ios, make it open so everyone can compete with Apple but, decided to retain a nuclear option (playstore) over everyone of those oem’s. Essentially, they want all the benefits of open without any of the competition to their business model. That’s what Google does all the time, they use open stuff all the time to their benefits, but always retain the stuff that makes their money. It’s about time someone put a stop to it. They do it to microsoft, to Apple and all the rest of their competitors. Hey it’s business, but don’t talk to me about what is right, maybe it’s right for Google’s pocket and Google’s fanboy/girl.

    • AC

      Exactly what “projectmisha” said. Amazon took Android and customised it to create Fire OS, they’re own version of Android which they don’t have to pay Google anything to use.

      Google has said that this is completely fine if phone makers want to do that but, Google added a massive host of benefits for manufacturers to stay with Google and most companies don’t have the resources to create they’re individual platforms.

      • Toukale

        Means jack if regulators and courts differ. Google wanted their cake and eat it too. They wanted everyone to adopt android but on their terms. The regulations are simply saying not so fast. They could have gone the Apple rout, but then they would not have gotten the market share they currently have.

        • Robert Bray

          Android has been available for use on its own since the beginning. There has never been a requirement that Google apps be bundled with it.

          • Toukale

            You must be new here, if that were the case then we would not be having this discussion.

          • jerry

            Actually the court case is behind the curve! When google apps came pre-installed on AOSP, Yandex had a point.
            Since kitkat, and especially lollipop, Google has decoupled it’s apps into the Google play services framework. There are no longer any google apps on Android, they all reside within the Google play store. Manufactures are free to replace the Play store with a third party app store . if they ship with the Play store, they must agree to google’s T&C.

          • Robert Bray

            I’m fairly sure since Ice Cream Sandwich.

            I largely say this because I used to have to install the Android Open Kang Project and Gapps separately.

          • Robert Bray

            It’s not the case.

            As anyone who’s ever installed a custom ROM should know (Prior to Cyanogenmod streamlining everything). It wasn’t just that Google didn’t require that Android distributors used their apps, it was that to use Gapps required a whole extra set of conditions.

            AOSP is free and completely and utterly 100% independent of Gapps. You can do what you like with it.

            It’s the play store that comes with conditions. However, any manufacturer that wants to be free of Google is perfectly welcome to be free of Google.

            The problem is that very few people are particularly interested in purchasing a phone that’s Google-free. The quality of the Gapps package is just too high.

            But please, continue to tell me how ignorant I am :-) It’s fascinating.

            Summing up:
            It wasn’t that Google forced everyone to adopt Android on their terms. It was that Google forced people to adopt Gapps on their terms.

            Yandex is completely free to provide an utterly Google-free phone with no obligations to Google whatsoever. Unfortunately the extra software they provide is simply inferior and unwanted.

            If the Russian people wanted Yandex’s software instead of Google apps, we wouldn’t be having this conversation :-)

          • jobob

            I would like to buy a phone that is free of google applications. Unfortunately I was ignorant when I bought my current devices – both have locked bootloaders that have yet to be hacked so I won’t be able to install a custom rom as you imply. Meanwhile Google Play services did come installed and is not removable. Furthermore, every other app seems to depend on it and the alternative FDroid ecocsystem is just pathetic (there I said it – I wanted it to be awesome but its not). Similarly the developer communities (fdroid and replicant to name the obvious ones) are also pathetic and there hasn’t been a lot of progress on the FLOSS Android front. The future looks murky to me. Should I buy one of a handful of devices to run replicant? Should I contribute my time as a developer to one of these projects? Is there any future here as long as Google Play Services remain – that capstone that holds it all together, and without it every other system collapses. If you’ve got one of those few “open” handsets out there, good on you, but don’t pretend that just because AOSP is open that the system as a whole even comes close.

          • Robert Bray

            This is an interesting contradiction…

            On the one hand, you present yourself as a developer, and quite honestly, you seem to be able to talk the talk.

            On the other hand, you weren’t able to find a device that would allow for unlocking. Which is odd, as the Nexus line is a pretty archtypical example of this. There are obviously others, but Nexus is designed for exactly this.

            I’ve also got no doubt lots of apps (made by people who aren’t Google, of their free will) depend on software Google makes. *shrugs* They’re not forced to make their software depend on it. If you’ve got an issue with the design choices of specific developers, you’d probably need to talk to them. I’d have to wonder how they run on the Fire devices, but hey.

            Finally, you seem to be unable to distinguish both the difference between what a home user might do and what a manufacturer (for want of a better word) such as Yandex might be able to do and the difference between the OS and a few commonly-but-not-necessarily-bundled (and in-demand) apps.

            I’m sorry, but for someone like Yandex, and even for what you purport to be, the system as a whole not only comes close to being that open, it *IS* that open. Handset manufacturers might lock it down, that’s their choice. Their use and abuse of what they’re provided isn’t a mark against what they’re provided, which, again, *IS* that open,

            Also, all bootloaders are locked by default. Including Nexus.

            Overall, I’d have really thought that a developer would have known the difference between one who makes a tool and one who uses/abuses it, but I guess I’d be wrong. I know that for a simple Linux DevOps engineer such as myself, it’s a fairly simple distinction.

    • alexmarky15

      This decision looks very biased. It supports the Russian company that pays the Russian government, but if Google refuses to change its business model, the government still makes money by imposing a fine. Manufacturers are free to use Android without Google products, if they chose to use them, this is their choices and what the market wants, Google is not to blame.

      • Toukale

        I don’t see any bias here, essentially the courts and regulators are saying there should not be any strings attached to android. Google can’t have it both ways, enjoying all the benefits of open, but retains the thing that makes them money as a weapon over the heads of all the oem’s. If that’s what they wanted to do, they should have gone the Apple route.

        • gosbiker

          There are no strings attached to android per se, only if you want to use googles apps… You or I could use android and change it for whatever purpose we wanted with no strings as long as we don’t use any google apps. However, google is a company and as such need to make money and there is nothing wrong with that, most companies are out to make money. There are only a few things you won’t find on their play store… Other app store apps being one… But android allows downloads from ‘unsafe’ sources like amazon underground so don’t tie you into buying from their store exclusively like some companies. And you say they should have gone the apple route, apple are historically a hardware and software company so had the infrastructure to deal with design and manufacture, google are a software company more akin to how microsoft started, so, when they first acquired android and developed it into a phone OS, they didn’t have facilities to manufacture their own hardware, and would probably been stupidly high to set up on, what was then, a risk. So, next best thing was to get hardware partners. They probably didn’t realise how successful google android would be on so many OEM products. Across the world the mobile market is really a two horse race OS wise between google android and IOS, but should either of these companies be penalised for being successful and having in-house apps that work well and wanting them on their OS?… What I would like though, is to be able to fully remove any preinstalled apps that I don’t want…. On any device.

        • Robert Bray

          There aren’t any strings attached to Android.

          Do your homework.

    • gosbiker

      Its not about being anti competitive against yourself, its about being anti competitive against 3rd parties, for instance apple lock you into using their own app store unless you jailbreak your phone, and, until recently 3rd party onscreen keyboards and web browsers was impossible or awkward to use on iOS, so, you could argue that any companys software like Swiftkey or amazon app store is being held back by not being allowed on the iPhone (and yes, I know iOS now let’s users set different keyboards like Swiftkey, but, not being an iOS user I’m using what seemed to be a big thing in an iOS update)

      • Toukale

        None of those things are anti-competitive. How could Apple be anti competitive if there were not a way to do it in the first place. It would be it the option was available and Apple was blocking it, but that is not what was taken place. I know you would love to see the regulators go after Apple, but those things are not what you think they are. Apple does some anti competitive stuff, but just are not it. Besides, why go after Apple with their teen market share when Google is right there.

        Besides, not having 50 different stores to confuse users is not a bad thing, it actually make it simple and easier for the users. And since Apple is the sole oem and producers of their own hardware and software, they are not hurting any of the other oem’s.

        • gosbiker

          I would love the regulators to go after more important things like phone and cloud security, regardless if its apple, google, Microsoft or any company… The fact that a company is going after google because people are not using their app is silly, I agree that having 1 or 2 stores is simpler than having 50+ stores like in the old java days but it also means locking out the competition (i.e able to legally download star wars Kotor free on amazon underground rather than pay £7 on google play). And if google are forced to supply their version of android without their apps, what are OEMs going to replace them with? ….. Probably google apps!

  • AC

    So Google spends billions on research and development, jumping through tens of thousands of legal hoops, creating a global platform with thousands of partners to build a mobile ecosystem that is genuinely useful to the majority of people on earth and then, a pathetic, unimaginative (other than the law suit idea, hence I said they’re pathetic first) with smallest grain of ingenuity of a search engine takes Google to court screaming “it’s not fair they’re so much better than us at everything” and wins?!

    I understand that Google (and Apple) is formidable and starting a competing platform is nigh impossible, but for God sake that’s not monopolising. This can be described as natural selection where the strongest platform survive and the weakest disappear (Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry OK, etc). Adapt or die… Unless you’re a Russian search engine.

  • William Molina

    This is bullshit, Android belongs to google. I know Android is open source and Google made some promises that may or may not have legal binding on how they are supposed to use AOSP, but still. How does a court has any power o Google and can dictate this kinda crap? I think you should be able to uninstall all pre-installed apps from your phone, not being able to is kinda stingy. so as long as you can uninstall the app and choose one that you like better i see no harm. These assholes are the only ones being anti competitive because they can’t compete with Google and make something as good. If you don’t like what comes with android, then use another platform or make one that helps your interests… Ohh there’s no better platform and you cant make one as good, too bad for you.

    • Toukale

      WOW!

      • Robert Bray

        I know.

        It’s impressive to have that much accuracy.

    • jobob

      “How does a court has any power on Google” .. I totally feel you man. Google is good, Google is great. How can any government have any power over Google?! Google is big enough to defend themselves, and defend themselves they shall. I’m sorry you don’t like this, but the way Google does business it was an inevitability.

      • William Molina

        don’t take it out of context. im just saying that if Android belongs to Google, how can you tell them they are not allowed to put their apps in android?

  • John Doe

    Russia is so corrupt it is not funny.. This is nothing more than a money grab from a business that just cannot make it in the mobile phone business. (Just for the record Yandex owns 60% of all searches in Russia, I am not sure how much more they actually want .. lol)

  • Nayib

    What I will say about this is that it’s okay if they preinstall THEIR apps on THEIR platform, but it’s not okay to not make them uninstallabe

  • Brad Fortin

    Android apologists are having a field day today!

  • Gill Hallam

    I dont see why they can say Google cannot put there applications on their own devices or devices by companies that have chosen to use google apps. It should be up to yandex to make their apps’ a competor worth being pre-installed over google or other rivals

  • Android Developer

    Only legitimate thing about it is that because they want choice, all pre-installed apps should also be able to be removed. I think that’s the best of all worlds.

  • alan price

    this is a rubbish seaarch engine getting jealous because they can’t develop their own Lol

  • Don_Alduck

    “The grand total right now stands at 15% of the 2014 revenue for preloaded apps in Russia.”
    So, we’re not talking about a lot of money, c’mon :D

    But i still stay with the fact that all preloaded apps must contain the option in setting menu to be removed, fully. Sure, since we’re talking about Google and Android, have the Play Store and about 2-3 Google apps that could be needed to set-up the phone when first opened, but that’s it. Why not just give the user a pop-up welcome window suggesting to use these and those apps from Google

    People with no experience could just choose the “easy setup” option to go with. That could contain all apps (with removable options)

    • Robert Bray

      That’s really down to the phone manufacturer rather than Google.

      The phone manufacturer could very easily give the user that option on first setup. Or even release a completely clean phone.

  • Syukri Lajin

    but then the phones itself are preinstalled with google’s product(android). by that logic, phones should come without an operating system since other companies won’t be able to compete with Google. you can’t really choose what operating system you the phones will run. you can’t run windows on your galaxy s7.