South Korea has launched an antitrust probe into Google over its plan to enforce its 30 percent Play Store commission by disallowing any apps circumventing its payment system, a top official said yesterday.
Google has always required apps offered on the Play Store’s virtual shelves to use its payment system, which takes an industry standard 30 percent cut — the same as Apple Inc.
The company has been lax about enforcing the rule, unlike Apple — which is involved in a legal battle with the owners of Fortnite after banning the app when developers allowed users to circumvent the payment system.
The Internet giant last month said that the new policy — set to take effect next year — applies to less than 3 percent of developers with apps in the Play Store.
The announcement prompted a backlash from South Korean app developers, who say the plan would allow Google to collect too high a fee.
Korea Fair Trade Commission Chairwoman Joh Sung-wook said that Google’s plan was being investigated for possible “anti-competitive practices.”
“Competition isn’t working properly in the industry,” she told lawmakers during a parliamentary audit.
“We are searching for anti-competitive practices in order to restore competition,” she added.
Joh’s remarks came about a month after some South Korean technology companies, including its biggest Internet portal Naver, filed a request asking for a government probe into Google’s policy change.
Google’s Play Store held a 63.4 percent share of total app store sales in South Korea last year, followed by Apple’s App Store at 24.4 percent, according to the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association.
Separately, a French appeals court yesterday upheld an order for Google to pay media companies to show their news content in search results.
The Paris Court of Appeal rejected a challenge by the US company, which had refused to comply with an order by France’s competition authority to negotiate with publishers and press agencies for payments to display their material.
The court rejected Google’s argument that the competition watchdog overstepped its authority in its April decision.
Google had said the day before that it was on the verge of reaching a deal with French newspapers over digital copyright.
“Our priority remains to reach an agreement with the French publishers and press agencies,” the company said. “We appealed to get legal clarity on some parts of the order, and we will now review the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal.”
Last year, France became the first EU country to adopt a directive aimed at modernizing copyright rules into national law, including a requirement that search engines pay for offering snippets of news articles.
News companies had pushed for the rules amid slumping revenue at traditional media organizations, but Google balked.
Additional reporting by AP
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