Why South Korea stalls Google on Android

Why South Korea stalls Google on Android

The South Korean Antitrust Authority fined Google $ 177 million for requiring smartphone and tablet manufacturers to use precise versions of Android, despite being open source. All the details

The South Korean Antitrust Authority (FTC) fined Google a $ 177 million fine for requiring Samsung (which is South Korean) and other "smart" device manufacturers to use only licensed versions of the operating system Android.


Android is an operating system for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, distributed with a free license in which, however, some Google proprietary software such as Google Play is not present.

The FTC says that Google has prevented electronic device manufacturers from using the fork versions of Android, explains Nikkei Asia : that is, those software created from the source code of another already existing (Android, in this case).

According to the FTC indictment, Google has forced Samsung, Amazon, Acer and other companies in the sector to sign agreements banning the use or development of forked versions of Android. The authority defined the practice as "illegal" and sanctioned it.


Compared to the net profit (40 billion) reported in 2020 by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, the amount of the fine (177 million) is very small. But according to the FTC, this is still a significant move.

The chairman of the authority, Joh Sung-wook, said the fine "creates momentum to resume competitive pressure in the mobile operating system and app markets in the future."

"Specifically," he added, "it is significant that we have established a foundation for innovative devices and services as smart devices are expanding their territory to smart watches, cars and robots."

However, the fine is the third largest imposed in South Korea by a multinational, after those to Qualcomm – a US telecommunications company – in 2009 (224.5 billion won) and in 2016 (1000 billion won) for abuse of dominant position. .


The fine on Google comes two weeks after a law was passed in the country banning companies in the app store market from imposing certain methods of transactions on content providers. Specifically, the law affects Apple and Google itself, which impose taxes of 30 percent on every transaction within the stores.

At the end of August, the South Korean authority that deals with the protection of personal data imposed a fine of 4.8 million euros on Facebook and Netflix for violations of privacy. In this case, Google only received a warning.


The FTC argues that, thanks to the ban on the use of forked versions of Android, Google acts as a sort of regulatory authority, forcing manufacturers to submit to its approval before they can put their devices on the market. Google was able to block the release of products that did not use the certified versions of the operating system: it happened for example to Samsung, which in 2013 had launched a smartwatch that initially used a customized version of Android, then replaced with another operating system later. Google's reaction.

Thanks to this practice, explains the FTC, Google's market share in the global market (excluding China) for mobile operating systems reached 97.7 percent in 2019; in 2010 it was just 38 percent. However, the estimate does not include Apple's iOS operating system, which is not open source and is not licensed to third parties.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/innovazione/multa-google-corea-del-sud-android/ on Tue, 14 Sep 2021 11:19:10 +0000.