Earlier this year, Google lost an antitrust case in Russia over the restrictions it places on Android devices. As part of a settlement with the country’s antimonopoly agency FAS, the US tech giant has made changes to its Chrome app, which now prompts users to select a default search engine when it launches for the first time.
In a blog post, Russian search engine Yandex described the change as a “huge milestone” and said it had been working for it “for a long time.” Google is Yandex’s biggest rival in Russia, with the latter holding 55 percent of the market (compared to Google’s 40 percent) by Yandex’s own count. As users switch from desktop to mobile, asking them to actively choose a search engine (rather than burying that choice in the settings menu) makes a big difference.
“As one of the largest internet companies in Europe, and the leading search and mobile applications provider in Russia, access to platforms is critically important to Yandex,” said Yandex. “We are excited that Russian consumers can now easily choose their preferred search engine on their Android devices.”
The settlement also forced Google to pay a $7.8 million fine, and forbid it from forcing phone manufacturers to make its search engine the only one preinstalled on mobile devices. Google confirmed the changes to its Android app in a statement given to The Inquirer, saying: “In line with the agreement with Yandex and the settlement with FAS, we have instituted a new opportunity for search providers to promote their search services within the Chrome app on Android devices.”