Yandex, Russia’s largest Internet search company, wants European Union antitrust authorities to investigate Google’s business practices with respect to its Android mobile operating system.
The company is calling for Google to unbundle Google Search, Maps and other services from the software it requires Android phone makers to install on their devices, Bloomberg Business reported Friday.
Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in October ruled in favor of Yandex on the same issue. In its ruling, FAS gave Google one month to modify its bundling arrangements with Android device makers or face fines in the country.
A statement from Yandex that Bloomberg quoted in its report Friday pointed to the FAS ruling as motivation for the Russian company’s decision to take the same complaint to the EU. “We think that the Russian finding of abuse of dominance is instructive and is a conclusion that can readily be adopted in other jurisdictions, including the EU,” Yandex was quoted as saying in the Bloomberg report.
In a statement, a Google spokesman said that Android device makers are free to use Android with or without Google applications. “Consumers have complete freedom to use rival applications.”
Yandex, which holds about 60 percent of Russia’s search engine market share, is one of several companies that have railed against Google’s practice of requiring Android device makers that want to preinstall Google Play to also install a whole suite of other Google apps, including Maps and Search.
Yandex and the others have claimed that this bundling requirement makes it much harder for vendors of rival products to get their own software preinstalled on Android devices.
By asking authorities in the EU to investigate this practice, Yandex appears to be trying to get authorities there to expand their current antitrust investigation of Google.
EU data protection authorities are presently investigating whether Google is violating European trade practices by giving preferential treatment to its own products and services when people search for products using Google search.
Several companies in the EU have accused Google of systematically giving prominence to its own comparison-shopping site over that of others even when the results may not be entirely relevant to a query.
They have claimed that Google’s practice of boosting its own site is denying users real freedom of choice while depriving rivals of a chance to put their own products in front of customers. According to Bloomberg, Yandex’s business development plans in the EU hinge on the outcome of the ongoing antitrust investigation.
While the EU’s ongoing investigation is focused largely on the Google market place issue, EU’s anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager has not ruled out the possibility that the investigation could be broadened into other areas as well. Google has said it will cooperate with investigators and has denied any wrongdoing.