Korean tech startups asks for investigation into Apple, Google in-app purchase systems

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The whole issue between Apple/Google and Epic Games over the in-app purchases within the popular game Fortnite has brought attention to the system that has long been in place for app and game developers in the two biggest app markets. We’ve long known it can be a bit stifling especially for small developers so now is a good time to revisit this practice and system. In Korea, a group of local startup companies has asked for an investigation into both Apple and Google.

Korea Herald reports that an alliance of local app developers and startup firms have submitted a petition to the Korea Communications Commission to ask them to investigate the two major app markets, App Store by Apple and the Google Play Store. They say that Apple for one has been “forcing” on developers their in-app purchase system since 2011. The standard practice is you give 30% commission if you want your app or game to be distributed on the platform.

Google on the other hand applies an in-app purchase module and commission to every app but in Korea, it has only been applied to game apps. The 30% standard commission is steep in itself especially for startups and small developers but their main issue is that they “force a specific payment system for the app markets” said Choi Sung-jin, the president of the Korea Startup Forum.

In case you didn’t know it yet, Apple kicked out Fortnite from its App Store and Google did the same after Epic Games introduced a Direct Payment system. It’s of course a violation of their respective store guidelines but the game developer is now challenging both in court as they filed a civil antitrust lawsuit. Things are still rapidly developing on this front so we don’t know how it will affect other things like the pending investigation that Korean startups want to happen.

In the last Ministry of Science and ICT report in 2019, Apple and Google hold an 87.8% share in the app market. So basically, if you want to be distributed to that part of the market, you have no choice but to play their game, so to speak. That is what app developers are starting to challenge now. Let’s see how this turns out for them and for the end-users as well.

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