Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
Google Android

Google Faces Anti-Trust Probe In Russia Over Android 149

First time accepted submitter Mark Wilson writes Google has a new battle on its hands, this time in the form of a potential anti-trust probe in Russia. Yandex, the internet company behind the eponymous Russian search engine, has filed a complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). Yandex claims that the US search giant is abusing its position by bundling Google services with Android. It claims that users are forced into using the Google ecosystem including Google Search, and that it is difficult to install competing services on smartphones and tablets. There are distinct echoes of the antitrust lawsuits Microsoft has faced for its bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Faces Anti-Trust Probe In Russia Over Android

Comments Filter:
  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @06:37AM (#49085911)

    That's why you can't stop using google [theguardian.com], or have any other choices [alternativeto.net], or even change the search engine simply by yourself. [howtogeek.com]

    I'm pretty sure that yandex knows how to do all this, so claiming it's "difficult to install" must mean "difficult to compete".

    E

    • Google is linking several products tightly together - which is what Microsoft was taken to task for doing.

      You can't ship a device with the Google Play store installed or available without also being required to have the default search engine for the handset set to Google. Two unrelated products linked by an exclusive requirement (exclusive being it excludes other products).

      Android is fast becoming the only realistic third party handset OS you can source as a handset manufacturer - Apple doesn't license IOS, Windows Phone isn't viable for a lot of people, Blackberry are ... well, Blackberry, and the rest are bit players with no market penetration at all.

      Sure, you can go with a lesser known app store, but you lose a good chunk of apps in the process. So its either go with the popular app store on the popular handset OS and live with restrictions on unrelated things, or go on your own and effectively marginalise yourself.

      So tell me, in what world did Google tying the default search engine (and thus ad displays) to the use of an unrelated product on the most successful licensable OS become acceptable?

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        It does indeed sound similar to the unbundling issues that Microsoft had in the EU. The solution was Windows N, which I actually rather like. It's the same as normal Windows, but without Media Player and Media Centre which I don't use anyway. As an added bonus you don't need updates that target WMP and WMC specifically either, and don't get prompted to upgrade them whenever a new version comes out.

        It's a shame more manufacturers don't ship it, but I suppose from their perspective they want a media player to

        • Microsoft also had put on it the restriction that that they were no longer allowed to restrict what OEMs could install with the OS they shipped to the end user - sounds familiar, doesn't it?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So iPhones should be banned outright since you need to jailbreak to make these changes?

        • That's a completely different discussion, since this one is about handset makers and sellers being restricted in customising the handsets in order to promote tied products, while your point is about users being restricted in customising the handset themselves.

        • If iPhone market share rose to the point where they have a dominant market position that can be used to gain advantage in other markets, then the iPhone should indeed become the subject of antitrust investigation. Until then, no.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        So your saying that despite the fact that Google already provides an open source version of their OS, that they don't tie you to their store (or the bundled search), that they must also come out with a version that only bundles the things that you want; otherwise they are anti-competitive?

        As you mentioned, it's not tightly integrated into the system as you can clearly get a version without Google services and search (which is a Google service).

        It's like a company that makes spreadsheet software arguing that

        • So your saying that despite the fact that Google already provides an open source version of their OS

          They don't have an open source version of their OS. That is, the open source version is limited, and missing a lot of functionality.

          • The OS is still open source. The kernel is GPL and the libraries and many frameworks are either BSD or some other Apache-like license. Some of the applications they put on top of the OS, like Google Play, GMail, etc, are closed. Even Chrome is mostly open, released as the Chromium project. And it's based on WebKit, anyway.

            Basically, though, everything that isn't particularly tied into the google ecosystem is open. There's really nothing stopping Yandex or anyone else from making an Android version tailored

          • So your saying that despite the fact that Google already provides an open source version of their OS

            They don't have an open source version of their OS. That is, the open source version is limited, and missing a lot of functionality.

            Then add them! Amazon seems to be doing just fine with Fire OS [wikipedia.org]

          • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @11:59AM (#49087807) Homepage

            So your saying that despite the fact that Google already provides an open source version of their OS

            They don't have an open source version of their OS. That is, the open source version is limited, and missing a lot of functionality.

            The only functionality it is missing is the stuff that yandex is complaining about Google bundling.

            No, you don't get the automatic Google account provisioning in AOSP. Or Google Play. Or GMail. Or Google Calendar. etc.

            Just what do you think a Google-less android would look like?

            I don't get the complaint. The non-Google parts of Android are FOSS. Other companies even have made competing forks of it as a result. If MS had done the same thing with Windows back in the 90s there would have been no need for an antitrust lawsuit. If you wanted Windows without IE you could just recompile it yourself, and even sell it if you wanted to.

            • The big problem you have is that more and more apps are building on the Google APIs, so beyond replacing gmail or the calendar, you have a big compatibility problem.
              • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

                The big problem you have is that more and more apps are building on the Google APIs, so beyond replacing gmail or the calendar, you have a big compatibility problem.

                I'll agree with this. I don't like the way Google is handling the whole Play Services thing.

                I like the idea of having an auto-updated component of the API that works across OS versions. That is what is causing everybody to use it.

                What I don't like is that this is closed-source and bundled with all the Google-specific stuff.

                They really should have two pre-installed apps. One is called Google Play Services and it is EXACTLY that - APIs related to the Play store, or maybe some other Google-specific APIs as

      • you can ship android WITHOUT google products though.
        it's not really googles fault nobody wants to do it.

        big companies that have done it include Amazon(kindle fire) and Nokia (Nokia X - and yes this is the part of nokia that microsoft bought so that line is effectively killed and never sold in euro/usa . ironically enough you CAN buy it in Russia. so you can buy an android device without google services, google search or any of that).

        it doesn't ship with the google app store though, so what do they want? t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          The problem is not that you can't ship with Google products, its that you can't ship with *some* Google products - if you want the Play store, you have to also have X, Y and Z - oh, and you must also send all search traffic to Google as well.

          So basically, you either get to bundle the best app store and go fully Google, or you get to cause your end users issues by bundling the second best app store but get to use your own solutions for other things such as search.

          Why should Google be allowed to tie the searc

          • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @10:16AM (#49086917) Homepage

            "Why should Google be allowed to tie the search provider for the phone to the app store provider for the phone? That's the kind of thing Microsoft got shat on for."

            Because Google is an independent business competing in a fiercely competitive market? And that gives them the right to bundle their product line anyway they want? Microsoft was a declared monopoly competing against no one in the desktop market - and actively attempting to prevent anyone from competing with them w.r.t to browser.

            American analogy: why does McDonalds force me to use their french fries in a combo deal? They should be required to offer Burger King's fries, or cook the ones I bring form home for me! Where do I file my complaint?

            • Because Google is an independent business competing in a fiercely competitive market?

              Really? Where is the fierce competition for Google Play? I have three app stores installed on my phone and tablet:

              • F-Droid. Open source stuff only - my first port of call for apps, but I'm not exactly a normal user in that respect.
              • Google Play. Basically everything is here.
              • Amazon App Store. Occasionally there are good free things here. Range is very limited, few commercial apps are listed.

              If you ask 10 people on the street what options there are for buying Android apps, how many of them would you

              • The fierce competition for Google Play is the iPhone app store.

              • If you ask 1billion people in China what alternatives there are to Google Play, they'll just stare at you blankly until you clarify that Google Play is the default Android app store. Then they'll stare at you blankly some more since they've never heard of it.

                Just because something is the most popular in your area does not automagically make it a monopoly. Microsoft got taken to task for a whole host of things. Bundling only became anti-competitive once it was shown that they were a monopoly. To be a monopol

            • Microsoft was a declared monopoly competing against no one in the desktop market - and actively attempting to prevent anyone from competing with them w.r.t to browser.

              There is no such thing as a "declared monopoly", the government court cases we regularly refer to here on Slashdot that covered such issues as bundling IE, preventing OEMs from installing third party software, bullying OEMs into not carrying competitors products etc were the thing which proved Microsoft had a monopoly and that they were abusin

              • You mean like the franchise model that McDonalds operates in many countries of the world (including the UK), where this is (based on how a local franchisee described it to me) exactly the approach (all or nothing. You can't just sell the burgers, you have to adhere to the whole brand identity, right down to the WiFi if you offer it. The only exception is the right to opt out of SOME of the promotions.)?

                • those are mickey D's requirements on the franchisee. The GP is talking about bundling the burger and the fries to the customers.

                  • That is why I was replying to the comment I replied to, not that of the GP. The post I replied to was referring to McD setting restrictions on an intermediary between themselves and the customer (and comparing it, rather appropriately, to the actions of Google as described in TFS), and highlighting how it differed from the GP's analogy of McD setting restrictions on what they offer direct to the customer (this time offering another appropriate comparison, this time to Apple/iOS).

                    • > Just my $0.04 (At current exchange rates, my £0.02 is worth more than your $0.02.

                      That's kind of silly. The expression is my two cents not my two pence.

                    • Thanks for reminding me... Haven't visited the main /. site in a long time. I only normally browse via mobile device, so I get the mobile site that hides everyone's signatures.

                      I assume that you have opted to criticise the sig because you can no longer find fault with the body of the comment itself?

                    • I think we were both right! Reasonable minds can differ.

              • There is no such thing as a "declared monopoly"

                umm what about utilities? and sports leagues like the NFL?

          • So basically, you either get to bundle the best app store and go fully Google, or you get to cause your end users issues by bundling the second best app store but get to use your own solutions for other things such as search.

            I think we all see the surface parallels with Microsoft, but the problem is that all Android's competitors are significantly MORE tied and MORE bundled. Historically Apple hasn't even let people put apps on their own app store that compete with their built in apps! Don't even think abou

      • Sure, you can go with a lesser known app store, but you lose a good chunk of apps in the process.

        Name a few?

      • Their main complaint here is not just the tie-in, but that it applies all across the regional markets. In other words, if some Android manufacturer makes a deal with Yandex to ship Yandex apps, or set Yandex as default search, on Android phones sold in Russia (which is quite reasonable, since many Russian users expect those anyway), they can no longer preinstall Google apps on their Android phones sold in US.

      • You can't ship a device with the Google Play store installed or available without also being required to have the default search engine for the handset set to Google.

        Yes you can. There was an active complaint by users a while back that Sprint (I think) were shipping Android devices with Bing as the default search provider.

        What you can't do is ship the device with the non-google provided version of Android (i.e. Cyanogenmod) and have the Play Store preloaded. This is also while Google apps are a separate download for Cyanogenmod users.

        Microsoft was taken to task for being a monopoly and then bundling apps anti-competitively. Google is not a monopoly and there are mobile

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      "Difficult to install" = "Difficult to give hardware manufacturers a reason not to install".

      • I think one of the reasons Amazon's phone failed was because it was tightly coupled with the amazon echosystem and not the google echosystem---the same exact phone sold by "google" [e.g. marketed as "nexus" line] (even at the same price) would've done MUCH better in the market. It's not just "uh oh, you're bundling your services with the apps"... it's that people actually *want* those apps and services and often wouldn't buy the device otherwise.

        Also, plenty of manufacturers roll their own Android, so what

        • It's not so much that people want the Google apps, it's that they want third-party apps. Have you ever looked in the Amazon App Store? It's a wasteland compared to Google Play. Google has successfully convinced people that selling an Android app means listing it in Google Play. This means that successful phones have to have Google Play installed, but if you want to preinstall Google Play then you have to also preinstall a big bundle of other Google stuff.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      You can disable the included applications on an Android device, but device manufacturers tend not to include the "root" tools needed to reclaim the SSD space that they occupy.

    • I don't know about Russian law, but in America, "Difficult to Compete" isn't illegal. "Having a monopoly" isn't illegal either, otherwise Microsoft would have a serious problem with Excel, and Adobe with Photoshop.

      Abusing a monopoly is illegal. Saying "you can't have this unless you buy that" can be illegal. Saying, "we'll charge you more if you buy from our competitors" is illegal. Owning a large company and not donating to senators is technically not illegal, but it leaves you open to intense anti-trust
    • by Bonzoli ( 932939 )
      Its all about Kiev and our sanctions. Its not a technical issue. Kleptocracy.
    • It is just difficult to conceive why someone would even attempt to use other services on an Android phone. Essentially, the market does not see a need to do so. I agree....difficult to compete with free, works, awesome.

    • That's why you can't stop using google [theguardian.com], or have any other choices [alternativeto.net], or even change the search engine simply by yourself. [howtogeek.com]

      I'm pretty sure that yandex knows how to do all this, so claiming it's "difficult to install" must mean "difficult to compete".

      E

      I am fortunate to be in Canada, where I can use optionally use the yandex search engine. It is as extensive or better than google. Please don't believe that google has exclusivity on intelligence and capabilities.

      Right now, because my keyboard has Canada French layout, Google has decided I want their searches in French. I never selected that language, though the keyboard I use is standard for Quebec.

      Google, stop being stupid.

  • Better explanation (Score:5, Informative)

    by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @06:57AM (#49085981)

    There is a post [habrahabr.ru] (in Russian) that explains Yandex's position better.

    It's quite long-winded, but boils down to the fact that several phone manufacturers were told that they will be globally denied access to Google services if they ship a Russian regional version with Yandex's competing services pre-installed.

    It's not just a matter of "in Russia, choose between having Google Play / Google services and Yandex", but "try to pre-install competitors in one market and we won't give you Google Play access anywhere".

    • by kav2k ( 1545689 )

      P.S. Google Translate in a pastebin (since the page has enormous amount of comments, it won't directly translate): http://pastebin.com/b56n2TnV [pastebin.com]

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @08:28AM (#49086283) Homepage

      Yeah, sorry, even with crap translation, it doesn't read like that to me.

      What they want is to be bundled as the default for everything by default. It doesn't really say that Google are strong-arming them into only ever providing Google and nothing else. There's nothing stopping Yandex putting out Yandex Android with all the defaults changed, but they'd have to convince phone manufacturers to use it, and then access to Google Play Store isn't guaranteed (but if it uses Android, you have a legal right to use the store as it says so in the Play EULA... like cheap tablets that don't get the official Google Play go-ahead and don't bundle it, Google aren't stopping you installing it yourself if that's what you want to do - and they don't even need to go that far... how many other types of machines are you allowed to connect to the iTunes app store and download your stuff with?).

      Sorry, but it sounds like sour grapes to me. And it's a lot of waffle surrounding that the fact the PEOPLE don't change the defaults, not that the defaults aren't changeable with a 5-second search of how to do so.

      Comparing it to the monopoly market position of bundling IE on Windows in a captive market is just hyperbole. If Google said to manufacturers you can only ever sell phones with Android, if you sell a phone with anything else we'll stop giving you any of our Android products and you won't be able to sell them, the default has to be left at Chrome when you sell, we'll never remove Chrome from the Android system because it's "all one thing", and they owned more than 90% of the market, and Chrome had almost zero market usage outside of such monopolistic actions, then it would be comparable. They aren't. By a long-shot.

      Nothing is stopping them selling a Yandex Android phone with Yandex as the default and Yandex app store. In the same way that many of the cheap Android devices worldwide do just that. The fact is, though, that they want the Google name for the App Store so they don't have to pay a penny for running that, and run stock Android, but still have their search engine be the default, and expect Google to jump in and help them when the system is all open anyway.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        In fact you don't even need to search how to change the defaults. When you install an app that offers new defaults the next time you perform an action that it supports a request pops up asking which app you want and if you want to set it as the new default or be asked again next time.

      • Verizon was certainly capable of loading their own app store, piles of Amazon cruft, Facebook, and much more typical carrier bloat. Who is the Verizon of Russia, and does this entity want Yandex or not?
        • Tower ownership is not an issue in Russia, unlike US, because mobile operators are decoupled from phone manufacturers. All networks are GSM and inter-compatible, so the same phone works on them all, and people can switch freely. The operators also don't control the software that runs on the phones.

          • I'm not sure whether this is the same in Russia, but here in the UK, just because your phone is COMPATIBLE with other operators' networks, doesn't mean that you can just switch networks if you bought your phone through one of them. Even if you have come to the end of your contract (which are almost always set up to ensure that you have, over the life of the contract, paid FAR more than the value of the subsidy applied to your initial purchase of the phone), you will still need to get the operator you acquir

  • Let me be the first to say that Yandex sounds like a bunch of whiny losers if this is their comparison. Google isn't imposing anti-competitive contracts on OEMs and using secret APIs to give their products a home turf advantage. They've open sourced the entire OS and most of the problems getting a competing product on an Android device is due to OEM malfeasance.

    If Microsoft had competed with Be and Netscape back then like this, I'd be running Firefox on BeOS R10.5 not Windows 7.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      Actually that's exactly what they're claiming.

      "If you ship a phone with non-google services we'll cut off your access to Google services globally".

      Whether this is actually true or not we don't know, but it's what they're alleging.

    • Let me be the first to say that Yandex sounds like a bunch of whiny losers if this is their comparison. Google isn't imposing anti-competitive contracts on OEMs and using secret APIs to give their products a home turf advantage. They've open sourced the entire OS and most of the problems getting a competing product on an Android device is due to OEM malfeasance.

      Google play services are not open source and whose APIs are by design required to run an increasing number of Apps. Google play services are available for bundling exclusively at Googles pleasure on their terms.

      If you don't have Google play not only is the Google appstore unavailable multiple Google services integrating with Google play services are also unavailable to you.

      If Microsoft had competed with Be and Netscape back then like this, I'd be running Firefox on BeOS R10.5 not Windows 7.

      They are clearly leveraging their position to enforce artificial dependencies and behaviors favorable to themselves just like Micro$of

  • ... which means what for Google's bottom line? What is the ad revenue in Russia at this point? I'm guessing it is less then what google gets from Spain. So... who cares.

  • For me, it is very, very sad, but Google seems to be becoming a very abusive company. The days of "Do no evil" seem to be ended.
    • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @08:24AM (#49086265)

      For me, it is very, very sad, but Google seems to be becoming a very abusive company. The days of "Do no evil" seem to be ended.

      Those days never really existed except in the minds of those that believed the marketing dribble.

      • You could have argued that they may have existed in the beginning, but once Google did an IPO, that was the end of it.

        Then again, if I remember correctly, Google never said their official motto was "Do no evil", but that was more like a goal they aspire to.

        Amazing how an IPO can make all such aspirations vanish overnight, eh? :-)

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      That may be so, but someone suing them, particularly in a Russian court, isn't evidence of anything one way or the other.

  • Or are the rules different in Russia, that you don't have to be a monopoly in order to come under antitrust regulations?

    • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @09:22AM (#49086537)

      Or are the rules different in Russia, that you don't have to be a monopoly in order to come under antitrust regulations?

      Somehow, I see this as a reaction to the sanctions imposed over the Ukraine mess. I think that someone in Russia is thinking that hitting Google will hurt the US Government in some way....

    • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

      Of course the other way to look at this is as one of linked services - Ford can't sell a car that mandates Ford tyres or Ford petrol, so maybe Google can't sell an OS that mandates Google search.

      • Close. It's more accurate to say that the Ford car is going to have Ford tyres on the hub and Ford petrol in the tank, and you can replace the tyres with Michelins and drain the tank and replace the Ford petrol with BP, if that's your preference, but it's a pain in the backside. It could be further complicated by Ford if they wanted to make sure that the tyres had a strange diametre or width and you had to use specific rims on the car because they used some kind of proprietary interlock that would make su

      • Of course the other way to look at this is as one of linked services - Ford can't sell a car that mandates Ford tyres or Ford petrol, so maybe Google can't sell an OS that mandates Google search.

        1) Google doesn't sell Android. They give it away for free. They make their money from the search and other services they've embedded into their version of it. So telling them they can't do that is tantamount to telling them they can't give it away for free and must sell licenses for it.

        2) They don't mandate

  • Thay the chairman of Google is Richard Stallman . They do not do evil . They are a non profit organaization truly commited to a better world . Its the Free software foundation thats making those spyware phones only for world dominion . Such an ignorant world .

    ____________
    Breaking news : Scientists have now mapped the gene that makes them map genes. ..
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @08:13AM (#49086229)

    ...is jab in the back with an AK-47.

    At this moment of global history, can anyone take a Russian anti-trust probe seriously?

    Between Putin's crony capitalism, the sheer amount of corruption in Russia and the geopolitical conflict between Russia and the West there's a whole laundry list of reasons to not believe that an anti-trust probe of Google has is honestly motivated.

    • If you read the details of their complaint, it actually has some merit.

      Whether they waited for a "convenient" time to voice it, is another matter.

  • If you don't like play services, then replace them. Android is there, in the open for you to modify.

    I'm not sure how this complaint can even get made when what Apple is doing with iOS is 1000x worse in terms of restrictive behavior.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yandex claim that manufacturer are being forced by Google to either installer their service on ALL of their handsets or on NONE. This forbids them of making a Russian edition using Yandex. That's exactly the same as Microsoft forbidding OEM to install Linux.

Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death. -- James F. Byrnes

Working...