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

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 …

  1. Baldy50

    Dicktator!

    'Russia's Open Mobile Platform got government support in its efforts to build a locally developed smartphone operating system', full of back doors and spyware I'll wager!

    Cash cow mentality and jumping on the band wagon of other similar law suits

    Going the same way as China.

    Should tell Putin to 'kooshite govno ee oomeeite', if all there search results from EU/US search engines gave a 404 they'd soon change their tune.

    So you folks don't have to look it up 'Eat shit and die'.

    There, saved you about 20 seconds up vote?

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Dicktator!

      "... full of back doors and spyware...

      So fundamentally identical to Google Android, except for how the harvested data is used then?

  2. Vector

    Freudian Slip?

    "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."

    Shouldn't that be consumers?

    1. Mike Shepherd
      Meh

      Re: Freudian Slip?

      The original says "наших потребителях", which could be translated as "our consumers" or "our users". Don't place too much faith in machine translation.

      The original also refers to "...продукция...поставляется на территорию Российской Федерации...", which is something like "products imported to the Russian Federation", but this has been translated as "products...supplied to the Russian Federation", which could be understood as "supplied to the Russian government", a notion which is not in the original.

  3. hellwig

    Forced to Install Apps

    I missed the part where the phone manufacturers and providers were forced to install Android.

    Seriously, this is possibly the dumbest argument I've heard outside the EU. No one is forced to use Android. You'd think Cyanogen would be a perfect candidate for a country like Russia.

    You don't want the App Store, Google Maps, etc.., STOP USING ANDROID. I mean, apparently Apple's EXACT SAME practices are fine, so why not just mandate your country only uses iPhones? Or is this not actually about fair play, and just milking the giant money cow known as Google?

    Reminds me of this episode: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_Man_%28The_Simpsons_episode%29

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Forced to Install Apps

      Android has 80% market share, Apple have the rest. Not much choice out there is there? And both Apple and Google are using their positions to make it commercially unrealistic for anyone else to evolve a competing ecosystem.

      Apple have a monopoly when it comes to making money from hardware, app, and music sales. And no, Apple's exact same practises (they're not by the way) aren't acceptable either.

      Google have an effective monopoly on data generated from people's use of online services, and they bend over backwards to maintain and expand that.

      What I don't understand is how a country like the USA managed to spot the monopoly of an oil company called Standard Oil and break it up, likewise with a telephone company, and yet hasn't worked out that Google in particular are effectively in the same monopolistic position. Probably because they have managed to arrange things so that this impacts ordinary Americans only indirectly, so it's "free". However it's not free. Fundamental rule of advertising: the consumer is paying for it.

      Effectively their approach is something like "that's a nice restaurant, want anyone to ever hear about it? Yes? Just sign here. Not signing? Well don't expect this place to show up in any of our search results". Result? That restaurant has to put its prices up, and Google's pockets are filled with cash. Do that to every business on the planet and it soon mounts up to a vast sum of cash.

      Then they come back: "Tricky to find this place on a map. Want this place to show up on our maps service?".

      And with Android it's an all or nothing thing. "Want your phone's customers to be able to install some apps? Well you're gonna have to accept our search being default, our maps being default, 'coz all those apps need this thing called Google Play Services, which isn't free". Only the Chinese have successfully managed to take Android and re-make it in their own image, with Google effectively shut out of that market (and of course the local incumbent has done pretty much the same thing as Google...).

      Google in particular are very vulnerable to losing big chunks of business. Governments always have the nuclear option; blocking access to Google's internet domains. Google's current direction may lead some places to think that they've nothing to lose by pressing that button. And it wouldn't take long for some local alternatives to spring up. Remote chance this may be, Google's board would have a lot of explaining to do if it ever happened (they're already being sued by their own shareholders over their dispute with the EU). Hint to the board: if you're shareholders are suing, that might mean you've got the company strategy badly wrong.

      And on the topic of Google's services, actually they're pretty rubbish. Their search in particular is now pretty useless for actually finding specific stuff. Instead you get a pile of useless ads for things their crummy AI think you're interested in, but rarely do I find the actual information I'm after. Gmail, maps, docs and all other web apps are appalling to use ("Wanna move this pseudo dialog box? Tough, can't, shan't"). Docs and Gmail in particular is annoying (according to people I know who're stuck with it because of their misguided company policy). They keep changing things, and you have to learn where they've gone and put stuff today. Stability may be boring, but it lets people get the job done.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Forced to Install Apps

        > And with Android it's an all or nothing thing.

        You are obviously confused by your own dogma.

        Amazon (FireOS), Nokia (and Microsoft) and many others have Android without being forced to use Google services. Of course the users _can_ access Google if they wish, or just use Bing or others.

        It maybe that if the _maker_ want to install Google services by default then it must follow certain rules, but there is no requirement to do so. This doesn't lock the _user_ out of those services.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Forced to Install Apps

          @Richard Plinston,

          And BlackBerry. But whilst they either have Android as an OS or and Android-ish runtime, they don't have Google Play Services. And without that it is impossible to run quite a lot of apps. This significantly limits their appeal.

          It's interesting to see how the app developers have approached use of Google Play Services.

          Lots simply expect to see it and won't run without it.

          Some, e.g. Skype will use them if they're there but don't seem to mind if they're missing. Makes one wonder what it gets out of them. I found this out on a BlackBerry. Skype from Amazon's app store runs just fine without Play Services. By then installing a version of Play Services on the phone Skype started trying to use them, but didn't run (apps have to be lightly reprocessed to ignore the lack of a signature on the Play Services). Make those changes and Skype springs back into life.

          Some are clearly written with multi platform in mind (eg Nest's app). Yes, Nest from Google doesn't use Google Play Services. Or at least it didn't. I suspect that's because they also want to support iOS from the same code base. Instead Nest and Google can be joined at the server level, where Nest's account can talk to your Google account (which knows everything anyway).

          So that's how Google play the Android market. Want to make a usable Android device? You have to install play services, and that comes with a lot of strings attached. Android may be free, but marketable Android most definitely is not. Result: Google monopoly.

          1. Richard Plinston

            Re: Forced to Install Apps

            > Result: Google monopoly.

            Meego on the N9 could have been a competitor, but Microsoft killed it (or made Nokia kill it). Nokia-X could have been a competitor - Android using Microsoft and Nokia services - but Microsoft killed it.

            Amazon FireOS is a competitor with its own services, so is Cyanogen. In China there are alternate services so many don't use Google.

            But all Android gets lumped into being Google regardless of what services are being accessed and then Google is accused of being a monopoly. The point being that Google isn't a 'monopoly' because users have no other choice, it is because Google provides some of the best services.

        2. fuzzie

          Re: Forced to Install Apps

          In order for a handset to gain access to the Play Store, the OEM have to submit to Google's Android requirements. Part of those requirements include Google Play Services, the whole bouquet of Google apps, from GMail, Maps, Chrome, Google+, Hangouts, Newstand and what not. Additionally, the Google search bar must be at the top of the home page and, I believe since Lollipop, Google should be launchable with no more two taps from the home screen.

          That's how much "flexibility" the OEMs have... just enough so they can touch their toes. The alternatives, as you point out all have to have their own app stores and then convince app publishers to cross-publish.

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Forced to Install Apps

      "You don't want the App Store, Google Maps, etc.., STOP USING ANDROID."

      ... and yet there are still people with a chip on their shoulders about the browser wars...

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Hm. Considering on the default install, the Google search bar takes up the entire top row of icons, and you cannot remove it short of installing another home-screen app... I think they need a horse whippin'

    Ditto for the search bar on the top AND bottom of Google maps. Hit 'em again, Mr. Putin.

  5. whoseyourdaddy

    Nothing good will come of this.

    Apple's protected system is, I suspect, the only reason I have never, ever had a problem making a call since I stopped buying Korean flip phones...

    Yep. It's closed. It has to be.

    If you want open, go design your own.

  6. Tim Seventh

    What Forced?

    Google didn't force android to have google services (unless it is nexus device), the manufacturers did. The manufacturers can pick not to have google services, but they chose and followed Google's guidelines.

    I have had own android device that came off shelf with only play store and nothing else, no youtube, no chrome, no google plus, no google map, none.

    This is not Microsoft Windows where everything is closed source. Android is open source and most manufacturers apply their own "android-based" OS. That's right, google do not control all androids. They patch android source, but they have no control in terms of who will update android or will have play store. The manufacturers choose it not google.

    Heck if you want to, you can download the play store apk to install it, disable it from the settings, or uninstall it by patching it with root or with a modded rom.

    Even the open source Linux has a distro with apps store (Ubuntu apps?) that if you don't want it you can fork your own Linux without it, uninstall it or use another distro without it.

    The manufacturers should be the ones that are being sued, not google. I'm not a google fan, but this is not closed source Microsoft Windows, but open source android. Google really needs to appeal this case.

    1. fuzzie

      Re: What Forced?

      Google very much controls the definition of Android. What's in AOSP is the bare minimum. Most of the "standard" apps like the Android browser, etc have all been left to rot. If you want access to Google Play (aka the app store), you have to submit to Google's licencing requirements and that requires Play Services, the whole suit of Google app, their on-screen placement as well as the prominent position of the Google Search bar on the home screen. All those Google apps are closed source.

      To quote from the Android FAQ:

      "If I am not a manufacturer, how can I get Google Play?

      Google Play is only licensed to handset manufacturers shipping devices"

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