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Russia tells Google to cough up some loose change in Android monopoly probe

Yandex complaint leads to tiny payout

Updated Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has fined Google 468 million rubles ($6.8m) on charges that its Android operating system has been illegally disadvantaging other software vendors.

Last February, the FAS announced an investigation into Android after complaints from local search engine Yandex that Android phones came bundled with some Google apps. Yandex whined that this was anticompetitive and was sucking away its business customers.

In a statement, the FAS said it was imposing the fine (equal to around three hours' worth of profit last quarter for the search giant) because Google was forcing Russian mobile phone companies to install its search app, its Maps, and its App store.

The FAS also objected to these services occupying prime real estate on the screens of Android phones, and to the Chocolate Factory banning some Russian apps from its storefront.

"We are confident that the requirements pursuant will provide an opportunity for the development of competition in the mobile software market in Russia, which will benefit our customers. Competition Law must be observed for all the companies whose products are supplied to the Russian Federation – including multinational corporations," said Elena Zaeva [Google translation], head of the FAS Communications Regulatory Authority and the Office of Information Russia.

Given the tiny size of the fine, Google isn't going to be too worried about the financial cost of this, but the search giant isn't flavor of the month in Russia. Putin and his pals don't like the idea of a Yankee company having that much of a hold over the local smartphone market.

In May, Russia's Open Mobile Platform got government support in its efforts to build a locally developed smartphone operating system, although since then it has received little traction among local buyers of phone manufacturers.

Google had no comment on the matter at time of publication. ®

Updated to add

"Google complies with the law in every country where we operate, and while we’re disappointed with the Appellate court’s judgement and plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme court, will work to comply with the FAS in order to do so in the interim," a Google spokesman told The Reg.

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