Russia Fines Google $6.8M for Android App Bundling

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Russian antitrust officials fined Google $6.8 million for abusing its dominant market position by bundlings its apps with Android OS.

"We have received notice of the fine from [Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service] and will analyze closely before deciding our next steps," a Google spokesman told PCMag. "In the meantime, we continue to talk to all invested parties to help consumers, device manufacturers, and developers thrive on Android in Russia."

The $6.8 million penalty—the latest in a growing list of global amends Google owes—is "relatively small," according to The New York Times. In comparison, the EU in May slapped Google with a $3.4 billion levy for abusing its position in the search market.

The latest fine comes after Russian officials in September found Google guilty of violating the country's antimonopoly law by favoring its own services over rivals like Yandex.

The Russian search engine early last year filed a complaint, accusing Google of thwarting competition. Yandex argued that user-centric services like search, maps, and email should be unbundled from the mobile OS, leveling the playing field and allowing developers to expand their audiences.

"We are confident that [this move will] provide an opportunity for the development of competition in the mobile software market in Russia, which will benefit our customers," Elena Zaeva, head of FAS Department of Regulation of Telecommunications and Information Technology, said in a statement. "Competition law must be observed [by] all the companies whose products are supplied to the Russian Federation—[including] multinational corporations."

Three Russian smartphone vendors—Prestigio, Fly, and Explay—in 2014 were blocked from adding Yandex services to their Android gadgets.

Google, of course, would prefer that partners pre-load its own apps, but they are not required to. Nokia's 2013 Android-based X lineup, for example, was based on the customizable Android Open Source Platform (AOSP); the operating system on those phones did not come preloaded with Google Play.

But it's basically an all-or-nothing proposition. Either you go with AOSP and launch with no Google services, or choose Google and bundle all the apps its requires. You can't mix and match for a phone with Google Maps but Yandex search pre-installed, for example.

The European Commission, meanwhile, in April formally filed charges against Google for anti-competitive behavior related to its Android operating system.

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