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New Android phones in Turkey to lose Google services in antitrust dispute

New Android phones in Turkey to lose Google services in antitrust dispute


The dispute is about being able to set different default search engines

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google has stopped issuing licenses for new Android phone models sold in Turkey, meaning they will not be able to ship with its services, Reuters reports. The development comes just over a year after the country’s competition regulator fined Google 93 million lira ($17.4 million) over competition law violations. Although Google responded by making changes to its agreements with its business partners, the country’s regulator was reportedly unhappy that they continued to not allow changes to the phones’ default search engine.

In a statement, Google said that it has told its business partners that it will not be approving licensing requests for new Android phones for the Turkish market. That means they won’t come with access to the Google Play Store, or apps like Gmail and YouTube. However, Google clarified that existing device models will be unaffected by the decision, and will continue to be available for purchase.

New phone models will lose access to Google’s apps and services

“Existing devices and apps will also continue to operate and receive updates as normal,” the company said in a statement. “Google’s other products and services remain unaffected.”

Google said that it’s currently working with the country’s regulator to resolve the situation, and has reportedly asked its business partners to pressure Turkey’s trade minister and the country’s competition authority to reconsider their decision. “We understand that this creates difficulties for consumers, manufacturers, app developers and carriers in Turkey, and expect to reach a resolution with the TCA soon,” Google said. It noted that it has already changed its contract to offer “even greater flexibility around how [its hardware partners] preload Google’s revenue-generating apps on their devices.”

Turkey’s competition authority originally opened its investigation into Google back in 2017 after its competitor Yandex filed a complaint against it. After an investigation, the regulator issued Google with a fine in September 2018, and gave it six months to resolve the issues it had identified. However, following changes made by Google to its contracts in August 2019, in November the competition authority deemed that these changes did not go far enough, and imposed a fine of 0.05 percent of Google’s revenue per day until these issues were resolved.