The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday it had fined Google 17 177 million for abusing its market dominance in the Android operating system (OS) market.
The US tech company has restricted market competition by banning 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 an improved version of Android “Android Fork”.
KFTC banned local smartphone developers at Google LLC, Google Asia Pacific and Google Korea from signing the AFA and changing details about the current version. The new measure in South Korea will apply not only to mobile devices but also to other Android-powered smart devices, including watches and TVs.
Android has promoted innovation among Korean mobile operator owners and software developers and has led to a better user experience for Korean customers, Google said in a statement. “The KFTC decision issued today ignores these benefits, and will hurt the benefits enjoyed by consumers. Google wants to appeal the KFTC’s decision, “said a Google spokesman.
A KFTC spokesperson said the commission has been investigating Google’s anti-competitive practices in the OS market since July 2016.
According to KFTC, Google’s global mobile OS market share, excluding China, increased to 97.7% in 2019 from 38% in 2010.
Google’s AFA is limited to launching new devices from tech companies such as smart watches and TVs using Samsung’s smart watch in 2013, LG Electronics’ LTE smart speaker in 2018 and operating system (OS) including Amazon’s smart TV in 2018.
The South Korean watchdog is investigating three other cases, including the Play Store app market, the billing system and the advertising market.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s “anti-Google law” comes into force on September 14, according to a press release from the Korea Communications Commission.
In late August, South Korea passed a bill to prevent global tech companies, including Google and Apple, from imposing commissions on their own in-app payment services and app developers.