The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) announced on Tuesday that it had fined Google $ 177 million for abusing its dominant position in the market for its Android operating system (OS).
The U.S. tech company has restricted competition in the market by banning local smartphone makers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics from customizing their Android operating systems, through Google’s Anti-Fragmentation Agreements (AFA), according to the statement from antitrust regulator.
Under the AFA, smartphone developers are not allowed to install or develop “Android forks”, modified versions of Android.
The KFTC has banned Google LLC, Google Asia Pacific and Google Korea from forcing local smartphone developers to sign the AFA and make changes to the details of the existing version. The new measure in South Korea will apply not only to mobile devices, but also to other smart devices running Android, including watches and TVs.
Android has spurred innovation among Korean mobile operator owners and software developers, which has led to a better user experience for Korean consumers, Google said in its statement. “The KFTC ruling released today ignores these benefits and will undermine the benefits enjoyed by consumers. Google intends to appeal the KFTC decision, ”a Google spokesperson said.
The commission has been investigating anti-competitive practices in the operating systems market on Google since July 2016, a KFTC spokesperson said.
Google’s global mobile operating system market share outside of China increased to 97.7% in 2019, from 38% in 2010, according to the KFTC announcement.
Google’s AFA has also limited itself to launching new devices from tech companies, such as watches and smart TVs using the operating system (OS), including Samsung’s smartwatch in 2013, the top – LG Electronics LTE smart speaker in 2018 as well as Amazon smart TV in 2018.
South Korea’s 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 effect on September 14, based on 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 their own in-app payment service and commissions on app developers.