Following an antitrust investigation that ultimately determined Google has been engaging in anticompetitive practices in Russia, the company has been slapped by a multi-million dollar fine. What exactly are the anticompetitive practices Google was found to be engaging in? Pre-installing apps on its mobile OS Android, which is by far the most popular smartphone platform in Russia.
Google includes a number of its own apps in Android and it requires its vendor partners to include many of those apps on their phones if they want access to the Google Play store. The reasons for this are twofold: First, it means putting Google’s products and services in front of more eyeballs. Second, it ensures that Android devices provide a certain level of user experience that lower quality apps might not provide.
Vendors can of course do practically whatever they want with Android, including stripping out all of Google’s apps and using alternative app stores like the Amazon Appstore. That option is apparently not enough for Yandex, the Russian search leader that initially filed the antitrust complaint that ultimately led to this fine. Yandex holds 60% of the Russian search market, but that share is shrinking as Google makes gains — thanks largely to Android and the ongoing shift from desktop to mobile computing.
The fine, which was levied on Thursday by Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service, amounts to just under $7 million. Considering Google took in $4.8 billion in profits last quarter alone, the company likely won’t have much difficulty coming up with the cash.