Google is shelling out $7.8 million to settle two-year-old anti-trust charges in Russia.
In addition to paying a fine to Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) agency, the tech titan has also agreed to halt exclusivity demands of its apps on Android-based devices in the country.
Also, as part of the agreement, Google must no longer restrict pre-installation of any competing search engines and applications, including on the default home screen. Google is also forbidden to insist that its Google search be the only general search engine.
“Implementation of the settlement’s terms will be an effective means to secure competition between developers of mobile applications,” FAS chief Igor Artemiev said in a press release. “We managed to find a balance between the necessity to develop the Android ecosystem and interests of third-party developers for promoting their mobile applications and services on Android-based devices. The settlement’s execution will have a positive effect on the market as a whole, while giving developers additional options for promoting their products.”
The agreement means Google will be forced to develop an active “choice window” for the Chrome browser for the devices that are already on the Russian market. Then, as of the next update, Google must provide Android users the opportunity to choose their default search engine.
Google will also develop a new Chrome widget for upcoming Android handsets that will replace the standard Google search widget on the home screen. This will enable those who purchase the devices to see the new “choice screen” so they can choose Yandex search, Google search or “any other search engine of those developers who will sign a commercial agreement on their inclusion to the choice screen.”
The FAS launched an investigation in February of 2015 after determining a complaint filed by Russian search engine company Yandex had merit.
Yandex in its complaint to the FAS, accused Google of breaching Russian anti-trust law with the bundling of its search app and other services with the Android operating system. Yandex also accused Google of forcing mobile device makers to pre-install its apps and to set Google search as the default, even though Android is billed as an open platform.