Yandex, Google and Turkey
The issue can be read both as major but just another competition issue between technology giants or as a quarrel between the United States, Russia, and Turkey over technology dominance.
Google has absolute market control over mobile devices in Turkey with over 85 percent penetration by Android devices. Major national brands like General Mobile and Vestel and international brands such as Samsung and Xiaomi are all using Android platforms.
Yandex is disturbed by this because Google makes sure that the Android devices come with already uploaded Google Services such as Google Maps. Google enforces this with production agreements. Yandex claims that this is a violation of competition rules in Turkey, and the Turkish Competition Authority agrees with them. That’s why the oversight agency issued a 93 million-Turkish-Lira fine on Sept. 19, 2018.
Google, however, failed to comply, and the authority has since increased the fine. According to journalist Kemalettin Bulamacı, the total fines would add up to nearly 20 percent of the total revenues.
After this move by the authority, Google issued a statement, claiming that if things do improve, they would cease to issue licenses for new mobile phones that would be sold in Turkey. This, of course, stirred the beehive, so to speak, and created a big buzz. People were divided: Some said that the fines are just and appropriate because monopoly is bad, and Google must respect the Turkish state. Others underlined the danger if Google follows through on its threat because it would mean that millions of people would be out of options. Some people, for instance, cannot afford the more expansive alternatives to Android platforms like Apple phones.
However, while this debate was ongoing, Google signed an agreement to bring its services to Turkey, a move they had been trying to avoid for a long time. This could mark a new kind of relationship between Turkey and Google. They could be let off the hook for having a monopoly.
We will see how this tale unravels, but I urge our policymakers to think about their citizens first. Unfortunately, we don’t have a national mobile platform, so as it is, we have to choose between two American companies. It doesn’t make sense to me to put more strains on Turkish citizens in favor of a Russian company.