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Korean antitrust authority raids Apple offices in App Store probe

Updated Oct 26th, 2022 2:34PM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Front
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple is reportedly dealing with a second antitrust investigation in Korea. A local bill already forced Apple to allow third-party payment systems for App Store content. The new investigation is apparently looking into Apple’s 33% App Store commissions, which are even higher than the regular 30% fees that developers have to pay to Apple. For those that are eligible for the 15% commission rate, the fees actually jump to 16.5% in the country.

The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) reportedly raided Apple’s local offices in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, on September 26th for an on-site investigation.

The KFTC is investigating claims that Apple had abused its market dominance in the region. The action follows a complaint from the Korea Mobile Game Association (KMGA) that Apple collected excessive App Store fees.

The association explains that consumers pay the app price and a 10% value-added tax to the app market operator, Korean site Chosun reported. The operators must apply a 30% fee after deducting the VAT from the amount consumers pay.

The MKGA claims that Apple applies the 30% commission to the entire 110% amount. This apparently leads to an actual App Store fee of 33% that developers have to pay.

Apple reportedly collected 345 billion won ($240 million) from 2015 to 2020, thanks to the App Store fees.

Reporting on the new antitrust investigation, FOSS Patents notes that Apple employs a similar fee collection practice in other regions:

FOSS Patents already brought up this issue last year with a view to other countries and noted that the effective App Store tax amounted to 35.25% in Turkey, 32.1% in France and Italy, and 31.5% in the UK. It’s just that apparently no one complained in those countries–I would very much encourage app developers in those countries to take similar actions as their Korean colleagues.

FOSS Patents also notes that the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) is conducting a “fact-finding investigation” of its own. The agency is probing the Google Play, App Store, and a local One app store. The KCC is looking into these companies’ practices related to last year’s legislation that requires app stores to allow third-party in-app payment services.

Google and Apple added support for third-party payment systems, but they do not result in a significant commission drop. Nor are they easier to use for developers and users, according to the report.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.