Russia orders Google to unbundle their apps from Android within the next 40 days

Another day, another antitrust issue with Google. This time, Russia has ordered the Mountain View company to alter their OEM licensing agreement clause which forces manufacturers to bundle Google’s services if they want access to Google Play. The change must be made by November 18th, says Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service.

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The source of the ruling began with a complaint issued by Yandex, Russia’s leading online search platform, who felt Google was unfairly using their platform to give them a competitive edge. The investigation found that Google also prohibited OEMs from pre-installing competing services, in some instances.

Yandex was clearly pleased with the ruling:

We are satisfied with the decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS) to recognise Google’s actions, as detailed in our complaint, as a violation of the antitrust law. Thousands of pages of evidence in this case included documents provided by Google, as well as documents provided by device manufacturers.

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. That fact that such restrictions have continually been tightening, led us to filing a request for investigation with Russia’s Antimonopoly Service.

Yandex and Google alike understand the needs of web users, and they both know how to provide a top-notch service. Professional competence of Google Russia’s team is beyond doubt, but why use restrictions or ban competition if one truly believes in the quality of their product?

They have a good point there at the end, but one would be quick to argue that all of this should be fair play regardless. It’s Google’s product, after all, and OEMs don’t have guns pointed at them forcing them to agree to the terms.

That said, this could set an interesting precedent for Google’s antitrust troubles in other regions. The company is being investigated for much of the same here in the US, and while Russia’s ruling doesn’t directly impact the outcome of America’s findings, it’s a sure bet it’ll be looked at by regulators as they look to come to a conclusion on all of this. Should the US come to the same conclusion there’s sure to be an uptick in these investigations the world over.

Our take? Just drop the apps, Google. We love them, but we all know where to find them, and the clause forcing OEMs to bundle them is causing you and Android a lot more trouble than it should.

[via TechCrunch]

Xiaomi wants the market share crown in India

xiaomi_logo_corporate_officeAccording to WSJ, popular Chinese manufacturer Xiamoi is hoping to drastically expand its influence in India over the next few years and ultimately become the top smartphone manufacturer in the country.

Xiamoi is gunning for number one in India. This may indeed be one of the company’s highest goals to date, but Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun is confident. Xiamoi is only a 5-year old company and what the they have been able to do in their homeland over the years is quite remarkable. Handsets such as the Mi 3, Redmi Note and Redmi 1S put the company on track in becoming a big contender in India. With new handsets such as the Redmi 2, Redmi 2 Prime, Mi 4i, Mi Pad, and Mi 4 coming to India this year, Xiamoi is very hopeful in expanding its Indian user base.

Results from last quarter satisfy Xiamoi a top 5 market-share position when it comes to smartphones sold in all of the world. Xiamoi plans to continue its mobile efforts and use a similar strategy moving forward. We’ll keep a close eye.

Source: WSJ

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Microsoft announces Surface Book laptop with 13.5-inch display starting at $1,499

Microsoft is changing up the Surface line today with the introduction of a Surface laptop called the Surface Book. It’s the first laptop ever built by Microsoft. But it’s a lot more than a laptop. The screen is actually fully removable so that it can be used as a tablet. If you put the screen back on, you can also choose to flip it all the way around and use it like a convertible, with the keyboard propping it up.

The Surface Book includes a 13.5-inch display with a pixel density of 267PPI. That display is optically bonded to the glass, which means it should look very good.

Microsoft says the Surface Book is for someone who wants a bigger screen and “the perfect typing experience” of a laptop. For one, that includes a backlit keyboard….

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