The parliament’s legislation and judiciary committee in South Korea is reported to approve the “Anti-Google law” Act which would stop Apple and Google from charging a commission for in-app purchases via their app stores. After the committee’s approval, the bill will be presented for a final vote. If the bill is passed, it will allow third-party app stores on iOS and Android devices with a payment structure determined by the developers.
Both tech giants are facing multiple lawsuits and investigations worldwide over the commissions on in-app purchases. For using their platform and services, developers have to pay a 15% to 30% commission for all in-app purchases via Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. However, some developers like Epic Games do not want to pay the companies any share cut of in-app purchases. As per Reuters report, the general manager at the Korea Internet Corporations Association Kwon Se-hwa said:
“For gaming apps, Google has been forcing app developers to use its own payment system … and it wants to expand its policy to other apps like music or webtoon.
“If the new bill becomes the law, developers will have options to use other independent payment systems.”
Apple says the new South Korean bill will risk users safety and impact the livelihood of developers in the country
With increasing pressure to allow sideloading on iOS, Apple published a white paper on the impact of allowing third-party app stores on users’ privacy and security. The company statement in response to the new South Korean antitrust bill reiterates the same threats. The report states:
The bill “will put users who purchase digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases.”
The iPhone maker said it believes “user trust in App Store purchases will decrease as a result of this proposal — leading to fewer opportunities for the over 482,000 registered developers in Korea who have earned more than KRW8.55 trillion to date with Apple.”
The apps economy is very lucrative, not only for the platform owners but also for developers. During Epic Games trial against Apple in the United States, it was reported that the Cupertino tech giant earned $100 million in two and half years from Fortnite in-app purchases and Epic Games earned $9 billion in revenue from the game on iOS and Android app stores. Therefore, it is imperative that legislators take both sides of the coin into consideration before passing any law which could impact users’ well-being.