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Google agrees concessions to Russian competition watchdog

Google has resolved a long-running spat with the Russian competition watchdog over its Android operating system.

Russia first claimed that the tech giant was “abusing market dominance” in September 2015, on the grounds that various requirements of the Android operating system obliged vendors to prioritise Google’s apps over their own. In particular, Russian search engine Yandex was badly affected by increasing mobile traffic, with its efforts to offer a version of Android tailored to the Russian market reportedly stymied by Google’s influence.

Igor Artemiev, head of Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), said: “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.”

FAS said that the settlement would “ensure competition on markets of mobile applications, especially mobile search”, with Google expanding its apps to non-Android devices as well as removing restrictions on rival search engine firms pre-installing their apps on devices, including on the home screen. The firm also agreed that any conflicting terms agreed under previous deals would be overridden by the settlement.

Google will develop a “choice window” for existing devices that will allow users to select a different default search engine from the Chrome App. The Google search widget that features on newly released devices will be replaced by a Chrome widget that will also offer a selection of different search providers, with Google “committed to securing the rights of third parties to include their search engines into the choice window”.