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Yandex Asks Russian Antitrust Authorities to Probe Google Over Bundling Services with Android

February 18, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

Yandex, the company that many call the ‘Google of Russia’ has asked Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service to probe Google and their bundling of Google services with Android as they expect the American search giant could be breaking Russian antitrust laws. Yandex and Google are of course two very similar companies, they practically offer the same sort of services just with a different spin on them. In recent years, Yandex has been trying to get into the mobile market just like Google, by using Android. To do that, the company started offering Yandex.Kit, a fee-free version of Android built using the open source version of Android from the AOSP. The aim was to give manufacturers an easy way to make a Russian-focused smartphone without the need of Google at all. In fact, Yandex has Yandex.Store for apps and games, Yandex.Browser to compete with Chrome and of course, their own search engine to boot.

Now, Yandex is pointing the finger at Google, saying that while “many believe that Android is an open platform” that manufacturers are forced to use “the proprietary Google Play application store and closed APIs. In order to install Google Play on their devices, device manufacturers are required to preinstall the entire suite of Google GMS services, and set Google as the default search.” It’s an argument that we’ve heard many times before, and one that Cyanogen is keen to push with the vision of a “Google-free” Android. As far as business goes, Yandex pretty much needs Google out of the picture to become the dominant force in Russia and other parts of Europe, and as long as key smartphones from the likes of Samsung, Sony, LG and HTC all ship with Google services the less likely people are to turn to Yandex’s offerings. Yandex has also said that Prestigio, Fly and Explay, three long-standing partners of Yandex that they are no longer able to pre-install Yandex software on their devices as per instructions from Google.

It’s hardly surprising that Google has tightened their grip on Android, after all the whole point of even creating Android was to get more users to use Google services. Back then we were talking about GMail and search, now we’re talking about Drive, the Google Play Store, masses of ad revenue and yes, search. While Android itself is free and open source, Google Android is a very different beast altogether. To ship a device with Google Services, which is pretty much needed in such a market, manufacturers need to agree to a lot of things. Like the placement of Google Search on the home screen as well as the Play Store and other Google apps and services. It’s this that Yandex has finally had enough with and they’ve formally asked the Russian government to do something about it. Considering things aren’t exactly peachy for Google in Russia as it is right now, things could get interesting for Google in the months to come.