Korean Fair Trade Commission visited company’s Seoul base over allegations that it abused its market dominance
Google is facing an investigation by the South Korean antitrust regulator into Android and the company’s alleged abuse of market dominance, according to local reports.
Yonhap news agency reported that officials from the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) inspected Google’s Seoul offices last week. This is part of a probe into whether the company is unfairly forcing smartphone makers to use its Android operating system.
The inspection comes two weeks after the European commission filed a third antitrust charge against Google, involving its advertising business, and reinforced an existing charge against its shopping service. The EC has also filed charges against Android, giving the company a six-week extension to respond.
The KFTC has investigated Google before. Five years ago it filed charges over complaints by Seoul-based search engine operators that Google was forcing handset makers to preload Google’s search app on their Android-powered smartphones. In 2013, it cleared Google of wrongdoing after a two-year investigation, concluding that its share of the local search engine market was too small to threaten fair competition.
Unlike in Europe, Google only has 10% of the search market in South Korea, which is dominated by local players Naver and Daum. Its Android platform has a far bigger presence in the smartphone sector, used extensively by the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, Samsung, and local rival LG.
Android is used on more than 1.4bn devices worldwide, making it the market leader by a large margin.
Google did not reply to a request for comment.