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South Korea Antitrust Regulators Fine the Search Engine Giant

The antitrust regulators of South Korea on Tuesday announced it will fine the Search Engine Giant $176.9 million for using its dominant market position in the mobile operating system space to stifle competition. Google’s Android operating system currently holds the lion’s share of the smartphone market.

The Search Engine Giant Google reportedly used its market position to block smartphone makers like Samsung from using operating systems developed by rivals. Yonhap News added that the regulator, which published its decision in Korean, said that the company required smartphone makers to agree to an anti-fragmentation agreement. This should be done when signing key contracts with Google over app store licenses and early access to the operating system.

Yonhap said that the Anti-fragmentation agreement prevented device makers from installing modified versions of the Android operating system that are called Android forks on their handsets. The regulator alleged that Google’s practice stifled innovation in the development of new operating systems for smartphones, the news site added.

The antitrust regulators have asked the tech giant to stop forcing companies to sign AFAs and ordered it to take corrective steps.  A Google spokesperson argued that Android’s compatibility program has spurred hardware and software innovation, and brought success to Korean phone makers and developers. The fine imposed by the antitrust regulators is small compared with the tech giant’s quarterly figures. Last quarter, Google’s parent company Alphabet reported $61.88 billion in revenue. This decision is the latest setback for the Search Engine Giant in South Korea.

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