Google pledges to fight fine, says S. Korea authorities don't understand how software rules help consumers

Google is facing a fine in South Korea of at least 207.4 billion Korean won ($177 million) for allegedly blocking smartphone makers like Samsung from using other operating systems, in what would be one of the biggest antitrust penalties ever, the Associated Press reported.

Google, which posted profits of $40.3 billion last year, said it plans to challenge the fine, and has accused South Korean authorities of disregarding how its software policy benefits hardware partners and consumers. South Korea has begun enforcing a new law that prohibits app market operators like Google and Apple from requiring smartphone users to pay using their in-app purchasing systems. It is the first nation to adopt such regulations.

Joh Sung-wook, chairwoman of South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission, said Google has hampered competition since 2011 by obligating its electronics partners to sign “anti-fragmentation” agreements. This has prevented the companies from installing modified versions of Google’s operating systems on devices like smartphones and smartwatches. That gave Google an easy way to cement its leadership in mobile software and app markets, she said, and consumers end up paying even more.

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