Google gets a slap on the wrist for what commission calls ‘Monopolization of the app market’

In a rapidly digitizing world, app ecosystems have taken center stage, transforming the way businesses and consumers interact. With countries such as China implementing stringent regulations on app providers and increased global scrutiny on the revenue-sharing models of platforms like Google’s Play Store, the tech landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. A recent manifestation of this trend is observed in South Korea, where the government is challenging Google’s longstanding dominance in the app store arena.


  • South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Google ₩42.1 billion ($31.5 million) over its Play Store practices and is compelling the company to implement measures that promote competition.
  • At the heart of the issue is Google’s response to a competing app store, wherein the tech giant allegedly threatened to eject developers from the Play Store if they uploaded their apps to the rival store.
  • Governments worldwide are re-evaluating the balance of power between tech giants and developers in app ecosystems, signaling a potential shift in the digital landscape.

Today, The Register reports that South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) initiated active monitoring of Google’s app store operations following their April decision, wherein Google was slapped with a significant fine for its perceived anticompetitive behaviors. The root of this contention traces back to Google’s policies, alleged to stifle competition, especially in relation to the local Android app store, OneStore.

Birthed in 2016, OneStore combined app stores of South Korea’s top three telecoms. Google allegedly responded with a stern warning to developers that their participation in OneStore might lead to their ejection from the Play Store, a move that unsurprisingly impacted OneStore’s potential to reach tens of millions of users.

Accompanying the substantial ₩42.1 billion ($31.5 million) fine imposed on Google in April 2023, the FTC has implemented additional measures. They seek to ensure Google’s compliance with necessary provisions promoting competition in its Play Store. This encompasses revising agreements with local developers and instituting an internal monitoring system aligned with the Commission’s directives.

FTC’s Commission chair, Ki-Jeong Han, pulled no punches in his announcement, stating “Monopolization of the app market may adversely affect the entire mobile ecosystem,” and that “The recovery of competition in this market is very important.” The emphasis was not only on fostering competition but recognizing the potential benefits this could bring to South Korean enterprises like OneStore and Samsung’s Galaxy Store, both of which stand to reap considerable gains in a more equitable digital environment.

South Korea’s actions resonate with a broader international shift in perspective. China, for instance, has mandated all app providers to share comprehensive business details with their government. In a similar vein, Australia’s ACCC is contemplating legislation that could potentially curb the profits of tech behemoths like Google and Apple from in-app transactions, symbolizing the global thrust towards a more balanced digital economy.

The continuous recalibration by governments across the globe, as observed in South Korea’s stance against Google’s app store hegemony, could mark a paradigm shift in the digital realm.

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