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Android faces probe in Russia after Yandex protest

Russia’s most popular search engine Yandex has asked the state anti-monopoly watchdog to investigate Google for possibly violating Russian antitrust law.

Yandex alleges that its rival has an unfair advantage because it insists device-makers set Google as the default search setting if they want to pre-install its Play store.

Google Play is promoted as the safest and best-stocked marketplace for apps and other media for Android devices.

However, Google may try to defend itself by noting that manufacturers are free to install rival services if they choose not to pre-load its other software.

It is also likely to argue that customers can carry out searches via other software - including Yandex's search app - after buying an Android handset or tablet.

Yandex says its share of searches via Android phones has fallen because of Google's restrictions

In the past, Microsoft and others have made similar complaints about Android to the European Commission, claiming that the operating system acts as a Trojan horse for Google's services.

Last year, the commission said it would "probably" launch a formal investigation into the claims if it did not get an "adequate" response from Google.

EU anti-trust watchdogs are already carrying out a separate investigation into Google's search and advertising business.

Yandex said that it had decided to act after three electronics comapnies - Prestigio, Fly and Explay - contacted it between last November and last month to say they were "no longer able" to pre-install Yandex's services on their Android devices because of Google's restrictions.

It said these included a take-it-or-leave-it rule, under which the manufacturers were forced to choose between installing the complete set of Google Mobile Services apps - including Google Play, Gmail, YouTube, Google Translate and Google Drive - and setting Google as the automatic search service, or opting out altogether.

The Moscow-based company added that Google was "increasingly" prohibiting device-makers from pre-installing competitors' services.

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