Google has once again found itself in the sights of an anti-competitive watchdog, and this time, it's in Russia. For the first time since 2010, Russia's biggest search engine, Yandex, has dipped below 60% marketshare, and it blames Google's Android OS for causing it to happen.
At last check, Yandex counts its marketshare as 59.7%, so it's not exactly well below the 60% mark, but it is a concerning trend for the company. On Android, Google is the search engine hard-coded into the OS itself; if someone wants to use a competing engine, they'd be required to open a browser and then go to their search engine of choice.
It's no surprise, then, why Yandex feels like Android has had a major hand in its falling marketshare. On most everyone's Android homescreen is a search bar that's tied to Google's search engine, and to my knowledge it cannot be changed, or even removed (unless you use a custom launcher).
Google has recently faced a similar probe in Europe, so it seems fairly clear that there's an issue here. But it always comes back to the same question: doesn't Google have the right to insist on its apps being used? People are buying into Android, after all. We faced similar questions when the EU forced Microsoft to acknowledge to Windows users in Europe that browsers other than Internet Explorer exists. It's just an odd situation.
What doesn't help Google though is the fact that its built-in search function in Android can't be customized like it can be in most browsers. If someone wants to change that search to Yandex, Bing, or what-have-you, I think they really should be able to. Yandex echos similar statements:
We believe that device manufacturers should have a choice as to which search provider to set as the default or which services to have pre-installed on the device. We are talking about the need to unbundle Google's Android operating system from Google Search and its other end-user services.
It'll be interesting to see where this goes.