S.Korea fines Google $177M for blocking Android customisation
SEOUL, Sept 14 - South Korea's antitrust regulator has fined Alphabet Inc's Google 207 billion won for blocking customised versions of its Android operating system, in the U.S. technology giant's second setback in the country in less than a month. The Korea Fair Trade Commission said on Tuesday Google's contract terms with device makers amounted to an abuse of its dominant market position that restricted competition in the mobile OS market. Google said in a statement it intends to appeal the ruling, saying it ignores the benefits offered by Android's compatibility with other programs and undermines advantages enjoyed by consumers. KFTC said Google hampered competition by making device producers abide by an "Anti-fragmentation agreement" when signing key contracts with it regarding app store licences. Under the ruling, Google is banned from forcing device makers to sign AFA contracts, allowing manufacturers to adopt modified versions of Android OS on their devices. In one instance, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd launched a smartwatch with a customised OS in 2013 but switched to a different OS after Google regarded the move as an AFA violation, KFTC said. Last year, India's antitrust body ordered an investigation into allegations that Google was abusing its market position to promote its payments app as well as forcing app developers to use its in-app payment system.