Russia's Yandex files antitrust complaint against Google

18th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russia's search engine provider Yandex asked local antitrust authorities Wednesday to investigate Google for unfairly preventing the installation of competing companies' services on its mobile devices.

The request came with Google making recent inroads in the Russian market thanks to its Android-powered smartphones.

The European Commission last year reopened a similar probe against the California company after initially weighing a settlement that would have allowed competitors to buy space at the top of Google's search results.

Yandex is asking Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service to prevent Android phones from being automatically bundled with Google's search engine.

"We believe that device manufacturers should have a choice as to which search provider to set as the default or which services to have pre-installed on the device," Yandex spokesman Ochir Mandzhikov said in a statement released to AFP.

"Google should not prevent manufacturers from pre-installing competitor apps."

Yandex has dominated the Russian market since its creation in 2000.

Much of that initial success came thanks to an advanced search engine that provided much more precise results for entries made in Russian. It also offered its own map and traffic tracking services and has recently entered the web advertising market.

But its share of Russian searches has slipped markedly in the past few years.

Yandex reported handling nearly 62 percent of the searches made across the country in December 2013. That lead had been pared down to 54 percent by last May.

Industry analysts attribute most of Google's recent gains to users' increasing reliance on smartphones and other mobile devices.

Yandex said that Google's Android operating system is installed on 86 percent of all smartphones sold in Russia.

It added that three leading Russian cellular equipment manufacturers have notified the company that they could no longer pre-install Yandex services on their Android phones.

Russian media reports said the Federal Antimonopoly Service would decide whether to open a formal probe into Google by the end of next month.

© 2015 AFP

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