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Russia’s biggest search engine beats Google in antitrust case

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Google has settled its long-running court battle with the Russian search engine Yandex.

The Moscow-based company had accused the search giant’s parent, Alphabet, of undermining competition by forcing phone makers to preinstall a set bundle of Google apps on Android.

Per the terms of the settlement, Google must ditch those restrictions in the country. Russian antitrust regulators also fined the company $7.8 million.

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While Google never outright required manufacturers to pre-load its apps, its previous rules made it so that companies producing Android-powered phones had to either install all of Google’s core apps — Gmail, a browser with Google default search, and, most importantly, the Google Play app store — or none at all.

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That effectively meant that customers couldn’t download apps unless device makers acquiesced (with the exception of the rare companies with their own app store, like Amazon).

Yandex particularly took issue with the default search engine stipulation.

“Today is an important day for Russian consumers as Google has agreed to take significant steps that open up its Android platform in Russia,” Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh said in a statement.

“I am thankful to the Federal Antimonopoly Service for applying the law in a manner that effectively and efficiently restores competition to the market for the benefit of Russian users, as competition always breeds innovation,” Yandez said.

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Russian regulators first ruled Google’s practices a violation of antitrust rules in fall of 2015. Google had been appealing that decision until this week’s settlement was reached.

“We are happy to have reached a commercial agreement with Yandex and a settlement with Russia’s competition regulator,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google’s dominance in the search market has led to antitrust cases like these all over the globe — particularly in Europe, where the company accounts for 90 percent of the search market.

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