Out-Of-Court Settlement Between Google & Russia Won't Happen

Google and Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service have failed to reach an out-of-court settlement agreement on in regards to a case set against Google over Android, following the fine that it had levied on the company last week. This fine, amounting to 438 ruble (approximately $6.85 billion) follows a 2015 ruling that Google abused its smartphone market dominance. In this case, the issue is that Google's licensing rules require manufacturers to include a number of Google applications should they wish to install and use Android, the open-source operating system, on their smartphones and tablets. Google's Russian competitor, Yandex, complained to the authorities in 2014 that Google was forcing manufacturers to both include the Google Search and other services along with the Google Play Store on Android-powered devices, but also that Google blocked manufacturers from installing competitor services. Google was found guilty of breaking competition laws following an investigation, but appealed the verdict. The original verdict was upheld in March this year after an appeal hearing and the fine levied, plus a requirement that Google changes how it's bundled services work for manufacturers building Android devices and selling them into the Russian market.

Google again lodged an appeal and the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service explained that an out-of-court settlement could be reached providing Google admitted to violations of Russian antitrust laws and pay a fine. However, according to the FAS' head of the Department for Regulation of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Elena Zaeva: "The talks with Google on the issue of the settlement agreement have come to nothing. Now it's up to the court to draw a line under this case." Google's appeal will be heard tomorrow (Wednesday) in Russia.

Google is no stranger to anti-trust lawsuits and has faced off against a number of governments around the world. For the Russian case, Russian authorities may only fine a business up to 15% of its domestic earnings but this figure is higher in many other parts of the world including the European Union, which is currently challenging Google with a similar antitrust case. It will be interesting to see how Google relaxes its bundled application policies for customer devices and what applications manufacturers are keen to remove from devices, plus what alternatives the industry will be putting onto devices going forward, and whether or not the changes will be drastic enough for the consumer to notice a significant difference.

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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.