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Google’s Android Investigated in Russia

The Russian competition agency (FAS) has become the latest regulator to open a formal investigation into Google’s anti-competitive business practices which are currently being investigated by eight different regulators on four continents.

FAS’ investigation comes after Google started using its dominance of the Android mobile operating system to prevent Yandex, Russia’s native search engine and one of the country’s most successful IT companies, from expanding into mobile search. Google’s Android is Russia’s dominant mobile phone operating system, and Google uses it aggressively to promote its own search engine. Google has imposed restrictive agreements that effectively prevent mobile handset manufacturers from pre-installing Yandex search.

The practice of restrictive licensing is a familiar one to FairSearch Europe, which has filed a complaint against Google with the European Commission over Google’s identical practice in the European Union.

Google’s anti-competitive behaviour in mobile stems directly from Google’s business strategy of “open, dominate, close” that it has applied successfully to dominate the search sector worldwide, and is now using to extend its search monopoly into other services. Mobile search has in fact become the battleground for the provision of new services and technologies, as it surpassed desktop use in 2014:  mobile has become the preferred tool at work and for all communications – private or business related.

Google’s dominance has given it unprecedented power over mobile phone manufacturers, who often have no choice but to agree to Google bundling an ever growing number of its own services into Android. Google has used its power to hurt small and big competitors by attempting to muscle them out of the market. Google restricts choice and causes harm to the innovative app industry and consumers.

The problems created by Google extend beyond the EU and Russia, impacting innumerable companies. Failure to redress Google’s abuse of its dominant position in mobile will allow this monopolist to push competitors out of this dynamic market.