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Russia to Google: Unbundle Android or Else

Not here, say Russian regulators.

The Verge

Of all the places where Google is embroiled in antitrust messes, Russia may be the coldest.

Last month, the nation’s antitrust agency wrapped up a case against Google brought by Yandex, a local Internet company, about Google’s requirements for preloading apps on Android handsets, its “bundle.” Google is breaking Russian law, the regulators ruled. And on Monday, the agency gave Google a deadline of Nov. 18 to stop bundling.

European Union antitrust officials, if you recall, opened up an investigation along similar lines in April. Meanwhile, here at home, some of Google’s rivals have nudged the Federal Trade Commission to look at the potential of a case involving Google’s Android deals with handset makers. (Portions of the bundling issue were involved in the FTC case around Google’s search position, closed in 2013.) Several legal analysts have questioned the viability of such a case, given the strength of Apple in the U.S. smartphone market.

Russia is a bit more Android-heavy, with the operating system on about 65 percent of smartphones there, according to one estimate. It’s also a bit more antagonistic: The Kremlin even plans to build its own mobile operating system!

Here’s the edict from the Russian antitrust agency (pulled from Google Translate, since it has yet to update its English site): “In order to restore competition in the market … Google [must] adjust the agreements with the manufacturers of mobile devices to exclude from the agreements anticompetitive requirements limiting the installation of applications and services to other developers.”

Google declined to comment. It could face a fine, according to the Russian agency, of up to 15 percent of the revenue from the preinstalled apps. Morgan Stanley has estimated that Russia accounts for about $560 million of Google’s annual revenue, or roughly 1 percent.

Yandex, which brought the case, said in a statement it was “satisfied” with the decision. “Our goal is to return fair play to the market – when apps are preinstalled on mobile devices based on how good or how popular they are rather than due to restrictions imposed by the owner of the operating system,” the company added.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.