South Korean antitrust regulator fines Google $177M for abusing market dominance

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Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said On Tuesday it fined Google $177 million for abusing its market dominance in its Android operating system (OS) market.

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According to an antitrust regulator statement, the US tech company has restricted competition in the market by preventing local smartphone makers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics from customizing their Android OS through Google’s Anti-Fragmentation Agreements (AFA).

Under the AFA, smartphone developers are not allowed to install or develop “Android forks” modified versions of Android.

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The KFTC banned Google LLC, Google Asia Pacific and Google Korea from allowing local smartphone developers to sign the AFA and change details about the current version. In South Korea the new measure will apply not only to mobile devices but also to other Android-powered smart devices including watches and TVs.

Google said in its statement that Android has spurred innovation among Korean mobile operator owners and software developers and has led to a better user experience for Korean consumers. “The KFTC decision issued today disregards these benefits, and will undermine the benefits enjoyed by consumers. Google intends to appeal the KFTC decision,” said a Google spokesperson.

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A KFTC spokesperson said the commission has been investigating Google over anti-competitive practices in the OS market since July 2016.

According to the KFTC announcement, Google’s global mobile OS market share excluding China has increased to 97.7% in 2019 from 38% in 2010.

Google’s AFA introduced new devices such as smart watches and TVs from tech companies that use the operating system (OS), including Samsung’s smart watch in 2013, LG Electronics’ LTE smart speaker in 2018, as well as Amazon’s smart TV in 2018. limited to launch.

South Korea’s watchdog is investigating three other cases, involving the Play Store app market, the billing system and the advertising market.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s “anti-Google law”, Based on the press release of the Korea Communications Commission, effective September 14.

In late August, South Korea passed a bill to prevent global tech companies including Google and Apple from imposing its proprietary in-app payment service and commissions on app developers.

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