Alphabet Inc.’s Google settled its dispute with Russia’s antitrust watchdog in an agreement that opens the way for local search engine Yandex NV to be pre-installed on Android devices. Google will unbundle its services from its Android operating system in Russia and pay a fine of 438 million rubles ($7.8 million) under the settlement reached with the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, Aleksey Dotsenko, the regulator’s deputy head, told reporters on Monday. Google will allow Android phone makers to pre-install third-party services such as Yandex, including on the first screen, as part of the agreement approved by Moscow District Arbitration Court, Dotsenko said.
The regulator ruled in October 2015 that Google violated anti-monopoly rules and should change agreements with mobile-device makers to allow them to pre-install third-party services. Google had been appealing the ruling prior to the settlement.
Yandex shares in New York jumped after the announcement and were 5.1 percent higher at $23.92 at 4:48 p.m. in Moscow. The company has about 55 percent market share in Russian search versus Google’s 40 percent, according to researcher LiveInternet. Its share is about 38 percent on Google’s Android, according to Yandex.
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Yandex Chief Executive Officer Arkady Volozh compared the decision to Microsoft unbundling Internet Explorer from Windows in 2009. It should enable Yandex to reach commercial agreements with mobile-phone makers and expand its share of search on Android devices in Russia, he said.
The FAS settlement and a separate commercial agreement with Yandex meet the interests of all parties and provide “additional opportunities to promote the Yandex search service in the Chrome browser,” Google said in a statement on its website.
Yandex’s share of the Russian search market has been declining on devices powered by Android. It won an antitrust case in Russia and filed a similar case in the European Union, joining complaints by Microsoft Corp.-backed FairSearch lobby group, ad-blocker Disconnect and independent applications-store Aptoide.