November 18th of this year. This is the deadline date that Russian authorities have given Google to stop preinstalling its own mobile apps on its Android mobile operating system for smartphones and tablets. Apparently, Google has been installing its app on all mobile devices in Russia that are powered by its Android OS, effectively abusing its position as the dominant player in the Russian mobile market, or at least as ruled by Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) last month. According to this Russian agency, Google has contractual requirements for various phone makers to install Google mobile apps on their devices, but this setup makes it difficult for other players in the industry to compete with Google fairly.
Via a translation of the agency’s statement, FAS stated that Google should amend its agreements with mobile manufacturers before November 18th, and get rid of the anti-competitive clauses that limit installation of apps and service by other app developers. If Google fails to comply, it could face fines of up to 15 percent of its 2014 earnings from preinstalled mobile apps in the Russian market.
Mobile users outside of Russia may not be directly affected with the FAS ruling, but it could serve as a sample of what is to come. The European Commission is currently investigating if Google has practiced unfair competition with its Android platform, and a similar investigation is purportedly going to be conducted in the United States.
Android runs on over 80 percent of all smartphones in the planet right now. But that could change soon, with Russia’s FAS ruling causing the first domino to topple. And because Google can no longer preinstall its own apps, core features such email, navigation, and search could drastically change. The same could apply to other functionalities such as Internet surfing, music streaming, and even accessing Google Drive.
The FAS had started its investigation back in February earlier this year, sparked by a complaint filed against Google by Yandex, a Russian search and online services provides. Later in September of 2015, the FAS ruled that Google was indeed in violation of federal rules. For Google’s part, it stressed the fact that device makers can always choose not to go with Google’s Android mobile apps when installing software on their respective handsets. But since Google is practically everywhere now, mobile users kinda always expect their smartphones to ship with Google mobile apps. Moreover, some of the biggest phone makers such as Samsung and Sony routinely integrate their software on top of the Android platform, with Google basically letting them modify the OS according to their needs.
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