Russia, Google reach $7.8 million settlement on Android case

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A long-running dispute between Google and Russia's antimonopoly watchdog has now reached some level of closure, as Google has now reportedly arrived at an out-of-court settlement with Russian Federation regarding the tech company's Android OS.

Google is paying a $7.8 million fine and agreeing to open up its Android mobile operating system to competitor's search engines in Russian Federation. "Smartphone manufacturers will also have more freedom to select the apps that they preinstall on devices". Google had been appealing the decision prior to the recent settlement. The new widget will let users choose their default search engine on the home screen, whether it's Google or Yandex or another provider.

Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its applications on Android-based devices in Russian Federation and will not restrict the pre-installation of rival search engines and other applications, as part of a deal with FAS, the regulator said on Monday.

Per the terms of the settlement, Google must ditch those restrictions in the country.

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In August previous year, Russian authorities slapped a 438 million ruble ($6.75m) fine on Google, concluding that the company was "forcing its partners to feature its services". Any developer that signs a "commercial agreement" with Google can be included - Yandex is the first to sign up.

"We are happy to have reached a commercial agreement with Yandex and a settlement with Russia's competition regulator, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), resolving the competition case over the distribution of Google apps on Android", a spokeswoman for Google told the BBC. Yandex now holds a 55 percent share of the search market in Russian Federation, while Google clings to a 40 percent share. "With choice, the possibilities are endless", he said.

Apart from restoring conditions for competition in the market of mobile applications, the implementation of the settlement will enable consumers to buy devices with the software that better corresponds to their expectations. For smartphones already sold to Russian residents, Google will develop a pop-up window in the Chrome browser that allows users to change their default browser, FAS said. "The settlement's execution will have a positive effect on the market as a whole, while giving developers additional options for promoting their products".

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