February 18, 2015 / 11:20 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 2-Russia's Yandex seeks Google probe as market share falls

* Yandex asks Russian watchdog to investigate Google

* Google says users have choice on Android devices

* Yandex search market share falls below 60 pct (Adds anti-trust application, Google comment)

By Maria Kiselyova

MOSCOW, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Yandex has asked Russia’s competition watchdog to investigate whether Google is abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system, as the Russian firm’s share of the search market fell below 60 percent amid competition on mobile devices.

The case mirrors a probe in Europe centred on whether Google takes unfair advantage of the 80 percent market share of the Android platform to promote services from maps to search.

Yandex said on Wednesday that device manufacturers were increasingly blocked from installing services from Google’s competitors on their devices.

“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 said.

The watchdog, the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service, said it had received Yandex’s complaint. A spokeswoman said it could take up to 30 days to review it, but it also could be faster as the Service has been following the case in Europe.

The press service for Google’s office in Russia said it would not comment as it had not seen the complaint.

“As for the Android platform we can say that users always have the choice of which applications and services to use on Android devices,” the press service said in an emailed comment.

Yandex’s claims came as its quarterly share of the Russian search market fell below 60 percent for the first time since 2010. According to LiveInternet, Yandex’s share, including mobile, averaged 59.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 60.3 percent a quarter earlier.

Yandex also said it expected year-on-year revenue growth to slow to about 15 percent in the first quarter, adding its outlook was limited to quarterly guidance because of a high level of uncertainty over the economy.

Fourth-quarter revenues rose 21 percent to 14.7 billion roubles ($235.4 million)

Net income jumped 126 percent from a year earlier to 7.6 billion roubles, boosted by a 4.7-billion-rouble foreign exchange gain.

Adjusted net income grew 13 percent to around 4.0 billion roubles while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 18 percent to 6.1 billion roubles, it said in a statement.

$1 = 62.4580 roubles Editing by Lidia Kelly and Mark Potter

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