S. Korea to review app market fees amid concerns over Google’s potential policy changes

This file photo provided by the Ministry of Science and ICT shows its logo at its offices in the central city of Sejong. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The Ministry of Science and ICT said Wednesday it will survey local app developers over fees levied by mobile app market platform operators amid concerns surrounding potential changes to Google's platform payment policy.

Google currently requires local game apps on its platform to use its in-app payment system, which takes a 30 percent cut for digital content purchases, according to the ICT ministry. The U.S. tech giant is expected to expand the requirement to all digital content apps.

The ministry's survey, the first of its kind, will check mobile platform fees across the broader industry and the potential impact on app developers' sales due to Google's purported policy changes and the resulting increases to app prices for users.

"We are closely monitoring the increasing influence of online platform operators and preparing policies to respond to such changes," the ICT ministry said in a statement.

The move comes after local app developers and tech companies recently lodged complaints to the country's telecommunications regulator over in-app payment systems required by Google and Apple on their platforms.

Local app developers have argued that the app market policies by the two tech giants could be in violation of local laws that restrict telecommunications service operators from obstructing users in selecting other services.

The two platform operators hold a tight grip over the market, with Google's Play Store holding a 63.4 percent share of total app store sales in the country last year at 6 trillion won (US$5 billion), followed by Apple's App Store at 24.4 percent, according to the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association.

One Store, a local alternative operated by the country's three major mobile carriers and tech giant Naver Corp. that levies relatively lower fees, held just 11.2 percent of the market.




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