14 Sep 2021, 12:20

S. Korea fines Google almost $180 mn for market abuse

SEOUL, Sept 14, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - South Korea's antitrust watchdog fined

Google nearly $180 million on Tuesday for abusing its dominance in the mobile
operating systems and app markets, it said, the latest in a series of
regulatory moves against tech giants around the world.

     The penalty came weeks after South Korea passed a law banning major app
store operators such as Google and Apple from forcing software developers to
use their payment systems, effectively declaring their lucrative Play Store
and App Store monopolies illegal.

     And last week a US judge ordered Apple to loosen control over its App
Store payment system in an antitrust battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games.

     Google and Apple dominate the online app market in South Korea, the
world's 12th largest economy and known for its technological prowess.  

    The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has investigated Google since 2016
for allegedly preventing local smartphone makers such as Samsung Electronics
from customising its Android OS.

     It said Google hampered market competition through an "anti-
fragmentation agreement" preventing smartphone makers installing modified
versions of Android, known as "Android forks", on their devices.

     "Because of this, device makers could not launch innovative products
with new services," the KFTC added in a statement.

     "As a result, Google could further cement its market dominance in the
mobile OS market."

     It fined Google 207.4 billion won (US$176.8 million) and ordered the
global tech giant to take corrective steps.

     Google has maintained that its Play Store commissions charged are
standard in the industry and fair compensation for building safe marketplaces
where developers can reach people around the world.

     The Play Store had revenues of almost 6 trillion won ($5.2 billion) in
2019, accounting for 63 percent of the country's total, according to data
from Seoul's science ministry.


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