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Google ordered to stop anti-competitive Android practices in Russia

Google ordered to stop anti-competitive Android practices in Russia

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After being found guilty of abusing its dominant market position in Russia last month, Google is now being ordered to make some changes. In particular, Russian regulators have taken issue with what Google does and does not allow its hardware partners to do when it comes to Android. If its partners want to sell a phone that includes the Google Play Store — and, therefore, access to most Android apps — they're currently required to include and prominently feature a number of Google's other apps as well. They're also not allowed to preinstall competing apps, the regulator says, and it'd like to put an end to that.

Google has just over a month to make changes

The Russian anti-monopoly regulator has given Google just over a month, until November 18th, to change the requirements it puts on hardware partners. It wants those partners to be able to include apps that aren't made by Google, rather than featuring its own apps and driving people toward those services. That's a big deal for Google's Russian search competitor, Yandex, which filed the complaint leading to this ruling. Yandex, like Google, is far more than just a search company, and the ability to get its apps on Android phones right out of the box could help to maintain its lead in Russia. The regulator may also impose fines.

Google did not respond to a request for comment; it's not clear if it will have options besides conforming with the new requirements. Google has increasingly faced scrutiny into how it conducts its business across the globe. The European Union has charged Google with abusing its market position to promote other services, and India is currently investigating whether it manipulates search results in an anti-competitive manner. In the US, the FTC looked into Google's practices and ultimately came to a settlement with it, which resulted in minor changes.

Google is already paring down the number of apps it bundles on new phones, which could help its case — if not in Russia, then elsewhere. Of course, Google is always going to want to include its best apps with Android to bring people deeper into its ecosystem of services, so whatever changes it makes are unlikely to fully wipe those apps away, not unless it really has to.