Korea to Investigate Apple and Google's In-App Purchase Practices

Last week, multiple startup companies in Korea called for an investigation into Apple and Google's in-app purchase practices. Now, The Korea Herald has confirmed that the Korean Ministry of Science and ITC will launch an investigation to look into the two companies' "excessive commissions."

iu

The investigation will examine platform fees, payment systems, and whether Apple and Google have violated Korean laws that prohibit technology service operators from obstructing users to choose services.

Apple and Google made up 87.8 percent of the Korean app market in 2019, and the issue is effectively an antitrust investigation. The original petition submitted by an alliance of app developers and small companies argued that platform operators are using their immense market share to give developers no choice but to submit to high commission fees.

They explained that Apple has been forcing developers to use their specific in-app purchase system since 2011, through which Apple takes a 30 percent commission. Google demands game apps in Korea use its own in-app purchase module and adds an additional 30 percent game-only commission. Google reportedly plans to expand restrictions on developers, and demand a 30 percent commission on webtoons, music streaming, and e-books.

"[The ministry] will carefully monitor and prepare policies that can cope with the increasing influence of platform providers," a Ministry of Science and ITC spokesperson said. "The ministry will also mediate between developers and platform operators to secure user rights."

The ministry laid out plans to collect opinions from local app developers and smaller market sources to see if the companies' platform fees are unfairly hindering business operators and in turn raising prices for consumers.

The outcome of the investigation could be sweeping amendments to Korea's new Telecommunications Business Act, which takes effect in January.

Top Rated Comments

Nuno Lopes Avatar
17 months ago

how is it anti-competitive please explain ... You can create a web app and it will run perfectly fine on Safari. An app does not have to be in the App or Google Play Store. The 30% is with in like with all other app store including consoles.
Well. It does not. Safari does not support PWAs for instance.

Anyway it does look like the South Korean approach is more mature than the US. Look at market prices of the services embedded, market share so on and so forth. To have a sense of how the Conglomerate uses each business to ramp the prices up of the other and customer control. This is better than the US circus kind of approach.

Heck, you just need to go there and observe how far behind in tech the rest of the world is, including the US. It’s another world.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mike2q Avatar
17 months ago

So Apple or Google is ever forced to let 3rd party payment systems in, when the customer gets ripped off or has a complaint who do you think the will call and blame, yep Apple and Google. Maybe they should just allow it to happen and let the shenanigans begin.
Wrong. Netflix has it's own payment system and if they rip me off I would blame them, not Apple or Google. People are doing mental gymnastics to avoid the truth that this is an anti consumer practice that needs to end. Authorities and experts all over the world can see it. Why can't you?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
robertcoogan Avatar
17 months ago

Monopoly, duopoly etc. The word you are looking for is cartel. That’s what Apple and Google are running in the mobile space.
That's a load of garbage. If Apple and Google are cartels, then so is Microsoft and Sony. Why isn't S. Korea investigating them? They're all guilty of being greedy, but everyone (including Epic) are in the same game. Apple just needs to introduce a graduated system of fees, rather than their standard across-the-board 30%.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
portland_bill Avatar
17 months ago

Well. It does not. Safari does not support PWAs for instance.
I’ll get downvoted by some numbnit going out to bat for a double trillion dollar corp, but you are absolutely correct.

Apple does not support PWA’s. When I nixed my apps because of Apple’s increasingly grubby practices, I looked into PWA’s. Full support on Android so I’ve left one app up on the web. But not Apple.

if I had the inclination I’d start a class action against Apple for what appears to be no reason other than grubby corporate greed for defacto PWA standards not being supported by Apple.

It’s a blatant lie to say web apps are supported on iOS and needs to be called out anytime someone says it.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
portland_bill Avatar
17 months ago
Monopoly, duopoly etc. The word you are looking for is cartel. That’s what Apple and Google are running in the mobile space.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LV426 Avatar
17 months ago

how is it anti-competitive please explain ... You can create a web app and it will run perfectly fine on Safari. An app does not have to be in the App or Google Play Store. The 30% is with in like with all other app store including consoles.
That's silly. It's tantamount to saying Apple might as well close down the App Store.

Native apps and web apps typically do very different things. The most obvious difference is that most native apps will work whether or not you are connected to the internet.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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