The Ministry of Communications and Mass Media looks for alternative ways to support mobile app developers

2 august 2019

Sources in the Ministry stressed that the requirement to pre-install software on mobile devices must not run counter to the interests of the market and those of the public.

The Ministry of Communications and Mass Media will review its requirement that domestic mobile applications be pre-installed on mobile devices sold in Russia and will continue dialog with the expert community to find alternative measures to support the domestic market of mobile applications. That's according to the Deputy Minister for digital development, communications and mass media of Russia Mikhail Mamonov who talked about the issue after an expert discussion at the Analytical Center.

According to him the decision was made because during the expert discussion the market players did not support any of the proposed bills to make it mandatory that domestic mobile applications be pre-installed on mobile devices sold in Russia.

Today three bills dealing with the pre-installation of software on mobile devices were presented. The first one was developed by the Federal Antitrust Service, the second was presented by the Ministry of Communications and the third one came from the State Duma.

"The expert weren't able to find a mechanism for mandatory pre-installation of software that they think would work in practice, any such requirement would run into all sorts of technical and legal issues that we still don't have good answers to. However, we're still standing by the idea that domestic mobile application developers need our support and so our ministry is going to continue to look for ways to provide such support," Mr Mamonov was quoted as saying.

The Deputy Minister stressed that the reason his Ministry is paying such close attention to the issue is that they want to make sure there is a balance of interest between users, mobile application developers and mobile device manufacturers. "We need a solution that would allow the market to grow and the general public to use convenient off the shelf solutions without having to jump through all sorts of hoops," he noted.

According to the Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Tatiana Radchenko, one possible solution would be to introduce a fee for pre-installation of software. According to a source in the Analytical Center, in June the Center  published a bulletin on the development of competition that addressed pre-installation of mobile applications. According to the Analytical Center experts, it is normal practice around the world that does not violate antitrust legislation.

It should be noted that originally the notion that domestically developed apps should be pre-installed on devices sold in Russia was proposed by the Federal Antitrust Service. The FAS suggested that manufacturers selling smart phones and other subscriber devices in Russia be required to pre-install Russian software on them such as Yandex Maps, the VK mobile applications and Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software.