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South Korea fines Google for preventing OEMs from forking Android – XDA Developers

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has issued a 207 billion won ($176.64 million) fine against Google for preventing OEMs from forking Android. The anti-trust regulator has said that Google’s contract terms with OEMs amount to an abuse of its dominant position, which has restricted competition in the mobile OS market.

According to Reuters, Google intends to appeal the ruling, claiming that it “ignores the benefits offered by Android’s compatibility with other programs and undermines advantages enjoyed by consumers.” KFTC’s Chairperson Joh Sung-wook maintains that the ruling is “meaningful in a way that it provides an opportunity to restore future competitive pressure in the mobile OS and app market markets.”

Talking about the ruling, the KFTC said that Google hampered competition by pressuring OEMs to abide by an “anti-fragmentation agreement (AFA).” As part of the AFA, Google required manufacturers not to offer Android Forks on their devices, which helped solidify its market dominance in the mobile OS market.

The report mentions an instance of Google forcing Samsung to switch to a different OS on its smartwatch back in 2013 after Google deemed the original OS an AFA violation. Interestingly, Samsung recently switched from Tizen to Wear OS on its smartwatches.

Along with the fine, the ruling also bans Google from forcing OEMs to sign AFA contracts, thereby allowing them to offer modified versions of Android on their devices. The KFTC ruling came on the same day that the recent amendment to South Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act came into effect. The amendment, which forces Google and Apple to accept alternative payment options, was passed late last month. It also blocks the companies from delaying the approval of apps or unfairly banning them from their marketplace. If Google and Apple fail to comply with this new law, they can be fined up to 3% of their total revenue in South Korea.