S Korea fines Google $180m for market abuse

Published : 15 Sep 2021 11:08 AM

South Korea's antitrust watchdog finedGoogle nearly $180 million on Tuesday for abusing its dominance in the mobileoperating systems and app markets, it said, the latest in a series ofregulatory moves against tech giants around the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Play Store had revenues of almost 6 trillion won ($5.2 billion) in2019, accounting for 63 percent of the country's total, according to datafrom Seoul's science ministry.