Google told to unbundle apps from Android in Russia

by: Robert TriggsSeptember 15, 2015

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Another country isn’t too happy with Google, this time Russia is accusing the search giant of breaching its anti-trust regulations, as it gains an unfair competitive advantage from the pre-installed Google products bundled in with Android phones and tablets. The situation arose after the Yandex search engine, a Russian internet company, complained to regulators about Google back in February.

The Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service found that Android unfairly favours Google services and accuses Google of abusing its dominant position in the smartphone and tablet markets. It would rather that phones simply shipped with the Google Play Store, leaving users free to choose the rest of their apps. The body will be issuing detailed instructions to Google about how to proceed within the next 10 days.

“We welcome the positive ruling of the Federal Antimonopoly Service, which took up this complex case and, having examined the evidence, recognised a violation on the part of Google … We believe the FAS’s decision will serve to restore competition on the market.” – Yandex

Yandex seems to already be a winner following the announcement, as the company’s stock leapt up by around 10 percent. According to Bloomberg, Yandex’s search results have fallen to 50 percent of traffic this year, while Google’s climbed to 42 percent. Yandex clearly doesn’t like the extra competition.

Google has not issued a reply yet, stating only that it will study the case and plan its next move once it receives demands from the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service. Google is likely looking at another costly and lengthy legal battle.

Russia is not the only one upset with Google’s dominant market position lately. The tech company is also under investigation by the European Commission regarding its Android OS and pre-installed services. Google is also fighting a similar anti-trust case in Europe over alleged preferential shopping search results.

  • TDN

    This does not make sense to me, sure we all have pre-installed apps that we wouldn’t install if we had the choice (Slides I’m looking at you), but saying that Google services installed on a Google developed OS gives them an unfair advantage is stupid. I guess that means Russia will never see the iPhone, Windows Phone or BlackBerry. Oh wait…

    • Luka Mlinar

      Yea but Google is not a closed service. It’s not just their apps here, there’s a whole developer aspect to it. Forget about making your own Calendar app when every Android device comes with Google’s preinstalled.
      Russians are right to demand this and In my opinion Google’s don’t be evil motto is getting more and more fuzzy with time.

      • keithbe

        One doesn’t have to use the stock Google calendar though. There are many different apps available already. If users were forced to use the stock and couldn’t load another then that’s a different story.

      • Dragonscourgex

        You are completely off base in your assessment. Didn’t every other OS… dating back to feature phones, come with their own utilities apps pre installed? If they demand this of Google, they should demand this of iOS, Window Phone, BB, and any other OS. You are not force to use any app that come pre installed on a phone. If you want to use a different calendar go for it. To request that a phone come with only a app store installed is just silly at best. You would have everyone crying that they should not have to download all the apps but have them there for them.

        All this boil down to one company lacking the skills or intelligent to actually compete…. So they will sue and cry and hinder progress and innovation. That is all.

      • TDN

        Then why are there so many offerings in the Play Store that replace the Google suite of apps? Just because it is an open service is irrelevant, in Android you still have a choice of what apps you would like to use. I choose to use a third party calander and not the Google calander because it is limited, that is the beauty of Android. If you don’t like the default music player, get a new one. The default SMS app too basic, new one. Email, browser, ebook reader, you name it, there is an alternative in the Play Store. Even the launcher can be replaced if you so choose. Who this would really apply to is Apple, they don’t allow you to set default apps beyond there own, only difference is Yandex is not in direct competition with Apple. What Yandex wants is to be the main search engine and not one that people have to search out to use.

        • VersedNJ

          It’s not hard to download Yandex, Duck Duck Go or other engines from the play store. I don’t see the issue here. But, seeing recent political tensions, I understand it. As far as the EU, they have a tendency to ignore their own corporations, and go after outside companies for monopolistic behavior. I never seen them go after Nokia when they were #1.

  • iJutsu .

    Russia got Idiotic mess going on, drunk by power Putin lost his mind, and pathetic companies like Yandex just try to suck off money from Western companies by ridicules accusations.

  • jerry

    Russia is probably correct – technically. If Google were selling the phone, it would be fine but it is pushing an open source OS below cost into a market – or dumping. Every Android phone manufacturer that signs up to Google Play Framework/Store must come with pre-installed Google products.

    So, for app developers, it can be extremely difficult to compete with pre-installed apps because of inertia by users.

    I can see both Europe & Russia forcing Google into adopting the same approach Microsoft did with the free Windows 10 upgrade. Did Microsoft push it’s browser ahead of Firefox or Chrome, MS Paint ahead of Adobe Photoshop, or Office 2013 ahead of LibreOffice?

    Google could probably get around the competition issues by having its apps labelled as highly recommended in the play store rather than pre-installed. Or alternatively leave them all in the play store and let users decide on ratings. This will force Google to up their game in terms of their app development.

    • John Doe

      Actually, All Windows versions come with IE out of the box and MS Paint, so Yes, MS does push a browser and editor on everybody …
      Google is not doing anything different than MS or Apple does .. MS’s Windows OS is also used by tons of 3rd party manufacturers on their PCs, and comes with the manufacturer’s pre-installed additional software (ex HP, Dell …etc).

    • Jonathan Figueroa

      Actually Google gives Android away with no Google services for free (ASOP Apps not tied to Google). The catch is in order to get access to the Play Store you need Google Play Services along with that app Bundle to function properly (Maps, Gmail, Play Games / Books/Movies, Drive, Chrome, etc etc). You don’t have to do this in order to get Android on your device and their are 3rd party app stores you can always use (Amazon, GetJar, etc). Google isn’t forcing anything on anyone, they just have a more appealing package.

    • TDN

      Technically, they are not correct because Google may not be selling the devices, but they are providing a service and have the right to set their own requirements for using that service. If OEMs want to have an Android device without Google Play apps on it, they are free to do so, look at Amazon and several of the Chinese OEMs, the only caveat is that you will not have access to any of the Google Play suite of apps. It is as simple as that. Maybe instead of suing Google, Yandex should hook up with one of the OEMs to ship their own devices with their services on it instead, but then they can’t come crying to the courts when their devices are out sold 10 to 1 because they don’t have the same third party (or first party for that matter) offerings.

      Oh and yes Microsoft does push their own suite of apps ahead of third party offerings, it only makes business sense to do so.

      And last but not least, Microsoft doesn’t sell computers, but every Windows computer comes with their apps pre-installed, just like Google.

    • VersedNJ

      I just never understood this whole notion that people who code apps and having various degrees of sucess feel the world owes them a livng? I also think what the Russian courts done is more political then economic. As far as the EU, it does what it feels that it needs to do, no matter. They have a tendency to charge Google, Microsoft and several other companies that are not EU based with being a monopoly, sometimes I admit they’re right. But they never go after their own based corporations. It doesn’t take a Harvard grad to search the playstore for another browser or search engine. If they were blocked by Google, that would be a different story. BTW, just checked Yandex has a whole suite of apps all free to download on Google Play.

  • PC_Tool

    Odd. I could have sworn it wasn’t mandatory to bundle any Google services. Anyone can distribute Android devices without Google services.

    Amazon, anyone?

    They are not forcing anyone to bundle…anything.

  • sraj49

    What is surprising is that Apple bundles there own application with their phone. Here Google does all the basic development work and gives it to the public and they can not bundle their own applications. Sad

  • The heck! I can’t live without Pinyin input!

  • KeyserSoze

    I say Google should just boycott Russia altogether. We don’t need to be letting those commie bastids have access to our advanced technologies and services then use it to try and destroy us later. Fuq them, they are our enemies, DON’T EVER FORGET THAT!

  • cooldoods

    Email is one of the basic functions of a smartphone, along with SMS messaging, and a dialer. What harm is there in having the app preinstalled? Android doesn’t even require a Google account and the Gmail app can access Yahoo Mail and Outlook accounts. Unbundling such basic apps will just add on to a casual user’s difficulty in setting up his/her new phone.