​Yandex presses for Russian probe into Google's treatment of search rivals on Android

A new antitrust battle is brewing for Google, this time in Russia.

Russian search engine Yandex has filed a complaint with the country's antitrust regulator accusing Google of obstructing its mobile search product on Android devices.

Yandex wants the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia to step in and force Google to unbundle its search and other key apps from Android.

Should the company succeed in triggering a Russian investigation, it would add a new front to Google's current challenges in Europe, where the company is facing a probe into the bundling of Google apps with Android, and has yet to resolve a long-running antitrust complaint into its vertical search services as well as questions over its treatment of apps from third-party app stores.

Specifically, Yandex has a problem with Google requiring device makers to preinstall Google Mobile Services, such as Maps, YouTube, and Gmail, as a condition of installing Google's Play app store. Yandex claims device makers are also required to set Google as the default search engine if they want Google Play and that they're increasingly prohibited from installing rival services.

In a statement, the company says that three smartphone vendors - Prestigio, Fly, and Explay - notified it last year that they are unable to pre-install Yandex services on their Android devices.

"We believe that device manufacturers should have a choice as to which search provider to set as the default or which services to have preinstalled on the device. Google should not prevent manufacturers from preinstalling competitor apps. This is why we are talking about the need to unbundle Google's Android operating system from Google Search and its other end-user services," Yandex's PR director, Ochir Mandzhikov, said.

Besides search, Yandex has several products that compete with Google's own, including maps, a browser, an email client, and its Android app store, which companies like Jolla and Nokia have used on their devices that can run Android apps.

Yandex holds a 60 percent share of Russia's search market (a combined figure across mobile and desktop), but it points out that Android accounts for 86 percent of Russia's smartphone market. So while the company's search engine is an option in Safari on iOS and more recently returned as the default for Mozilla's Firefox browser in Russia, Android is the most important OS for any search engine to feature in to build its share on mobile.

The company wants to see "user-centric services, such as search, maps, email" to be unbundled from the Android OS. However, it also says that "chances are high" that Google will continue bundling its apps with Google Play.

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