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Yandex, Google's Russian Rival, Brings Its Android Case to the EU

From Russia, with gloves off.

Harry Engels | Getty Images

Last month, antitrust authorities in Russia ruled that Google’s practice of bundling its services on Android devices was breaking Russian law. Now the main instigator of that suit, Yandex, a Russian search engine, is trying to ruffle feathers westward in the European Union.

In April, EU competition regulators began a formal investigation into Google’s shopping service, a case since lobbied back and forth combatively. The EU also opened a probe into the Android bundling, seeing if it was worthy of an official case. If it is, the case may be more troubling for Google than the shopping investigation as it goes straight for key operational strategy on mobile, the chief priority for the search giant.

The Android probe was prompted by complaints from small European ad blockers, app stores and the like, along with the Microsoft-backed FairSearch. Yandex, a company with a $4.8 billion market cap, weighed in in April, too. But now, buoyed by its success in Russia, Yandex is sharing its involvement publicly and ramping up its complaints in Brussels.

Per a company statement: “Our experience fighting for fair and open competition in our home market, as well as the evidence we have obtained, is of equal application by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, where we also are seeking to ensure a level playing field in the mobile market.”

Google declined to comment.

Some of Google’s foes have tried to nudge the Federal Trade Commission to pursue an Android case stateside, although that has yet to gain traction. Google did manage an antitrust victory in August, when Taiwanese authorities closed a case there. Russian regulators gave Google an initial deadline of Nov. 18 to reply to the Android charges, a deadline that will likely be extended. Google is planning an appeal.

Update: Google’s deadline to respond to Russian authorities was in fact extended. By a month.

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