According to industry sources, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has begun investigating Google Play for ‘abusing its market position’ reported the english-language Korea Herald.
According to the story, Google has been pressuring regional games publishers to launch new titles exclusively through Google Play. The regulator has begun surveying mobile developers on whether they were pressured to enter exclusivity deals and whether they faced negative consequences for not doing so.
It was the launches of both NCSoft’s Lineage M and Netmarble Games’ Lineage 2 Revolution that interested the regulator. Both of which were smash hits, not just in South Korea but across Asia, success that earned them english-language releases as well.
Rather than being a global spat between say Google and Apple, though, the South Korean investigation as a more local angle, as the app store reportedly locked out is run by the three major mobile networks in the country, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus. Their One Store accounts for a significant 11.6 per cent of the market according to a recent report.
It looks likely then that South Korea’s mobile carriers are banding together to try and put up a fight against Google, which holds the majority of the market in South Korea. And it’s using the FTC as part of that.
With no other significant mobile app stores in the west, we can’t see this fightback from network carriers spreading. However, it’s another reminder for those looking to business in Asia that the big entrenched players can have strong backing from government – and that’s not just in China.