SEOUL—South Korea’s antitrust regulator has charged Alphabet Inc.’s Google 207 billion ($176.64 million) for blocking optimized versions of its Android operating system (OS), in the US tech giant’s second blow to the country in less than a month. ) has been fined.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday that the terms of Google’s contract with device makers abuse its dominant market position that restricts competition in the mobile OS market.
Google said in a statement that it intends to appeal the decision, saying it ignores the benefits offered by Android’s compatibility with other programs and undermines the benefits enjoyed by consumers.
“The Korea Fair Trade Commission’s decision is meaningful in the way that it provides an opportunity to restore future competitive pressure in the mobile OS and app market markets,” KFTC President Joh Sung-wook said in a statement.
The antitrust regulator said it could be the ninth largest fine ever imposed.
The KFTC said Google hindered competition by requiring device manufacturers to comply with an “Anti-Fragmentation Agreement (AFA)” when signing major contracts regarding App Store licenses.
Under the AFA, manufacturers could not equip their handsets with modified versions of Android, known as “Android forks”. KFTC said this has helped Google consolidate its market dominance in the mobile OS market.
Under the ruling, Google is banned from forcing device makers to sign AFA contracts that allow manufacturers to adopt modified versions of the Android OS on their devices.
In one instance, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. launched a smartwatch with a customized OS in 2013, but switched to a different OS after Google deemed the move as an AFA violation, KFTC said. Samsung Electronics declined to comment.
The fine comes on the day an amendment to South Korea’s Telecommunications Trade Act – popularly known as the “anti-Google law” – went into effect.
The bill was passed in late August and prohibits app store operators such as Google from requiring software developers to use their payment systems. The requirement effectively barred developers from charging commissions on in-app purchases.
Last year, India’s antitrust body ordered an investigation into allegations that Google was abusing its market position to promote its payments app as well as to force app developers to use its in-app payment system. Had been.
($1 = 1,171.8500 won)
by Hekyong Yang
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times