Korean Startups Call for Investigation into Apple and Google In-App Purchases

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Multiple startup companies in Korea are calling for an investigation into Apple and Google’s in-app purchase practices, reports The Korea Herald.

An alliance of app developers and small companies submitted a petition to the Korea Communications Commission earlier today, asking for an investigation into whether Apple and Google may be violating Korean laws on in-app purchases and anti-competitive behavior.

They explain 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 game-only commission.

“While the 30 percent commission rate is too high in itself, it is more problematic that they force a specific payment system for the app markets,” said Choi Sung-jin, President of the Korea Startup Forum.

Sung-jin added that while large developers may be able to negotiate lower rates of commission with platform providers, it is out of reach to smaller developers and startups who cannot afford to do so. Moreover, they fear that setting about a negotiation could eventually lead to a hike in in-app purchase commissions.

Apple and Google made up 87.8 percent of the Korean app market in 2019, and the issue is effectively an antitrust dispute. The Korean offices of Apple and Google did not provide a comment.

Tech companies are coming under fire in antitrust complaints around the world, with investigations underway in the U.S., the EU, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia. Companies such as Microsoft, Spotify, Airbnb, and Epic Games have also joined calls for greater control over app store terms and rates of commission.

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