Google has been slapped a penalty of RUB 438 million, which amounts to Rs. 45 crores ($6.8 Million) by Russia’s antitrust authority. Google was found guilty of abusing the market by forcing Android smartphone manufacturers to install its search engine on the devices. In September 2015, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) accused Google of breaching the law on “protecting competition”. This is after a detailed investigation conducted by the authority as a follow up to a complaint filed by Yandex, which is Russia’s largest search engine. In its petition, Yandex had requested the antitrust authorities to prohibit Android devices from being automatically bundled with Google’s search engine. Google has been given two month time to pay the imposed fine.
Commenting on the development, Yelena Zayeva who is the head of the IT department disclosed that the latest ruling enables development of competition in the mobile software market in Russia. Zayeva further stated that this would have a positive effect on consumers. Moreover, companies who are selling their devices in Russia will have to observe the rule of the law on competition, which includes transnational corporations.
Meanwhile, Google confirmed that they are in receipt of the notice of the fine from FAS. The company has deputed its legal team to analyze the possible implications of the ruling before a further course of action. The only way for the search engine giant to come out of the legal tangle is to file an appeal either before the antitrust authority or local court.
Google also revealed that the company would continue to talk with all the stakeholders to help consumers, device manufacturing companies and developers to promote the use of Android in Russia. According to company sources, the company is committed to promoting optimal use of Android across the world.
Android Domination under Scanner
With over 80 percent of the overall market share, the Android platform continues to dominate the smartphone segment worldwide. The current domination by Google is enabling them to provide search and other services such as Google Hangouts to smartphone users.
Possible out of the court settlement
In the meantime, the antitrust authority in Russia had been holding a series of marathon consultations with Google to arrive at an amicable agreement out of the court. However, this requires Google to admit guilt. We expect that Google will be let off with a warning after hearing an appeal.
In a statement, Google argued that consumers are free to choose the service they require. There are separate mobile apps for various browsers, and people can freely install them to work with a different search engine than Google.
Earlier, Google had to face similar antitrust charges in other countries in the European Union. The company is fighting three cases, out of which one of the case is related to the dominance of the Android mobile phone operating system.
The same anti-trust authority based in Russia has also launched a series of legal proceedings against Apple since the Cupertino-based company had allegedly violated the principles for fixing resellers prices for iPhones.