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South Korea reportedly fines Google $177M for abusing Android dominance

Regulators reportedly accused the tech giant of blocking phone makers from using rival operating systems.

Android at Google I/O 2021
James Martin/CNET

South Korea's competition regulator is fining Google 207.4 billion won, or roughly $177 million, for allegedly abusing its dominance in the smartphone market by squeezing out rivals to its Android operating system, according to a report from Bloomberg

Android is the world's most widely used mobile OS, powering almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. 

On Tuesday, the Korean Fair Trade Commission reportedly said Google blocked device makers like Samsung and LG from using operating systems developed by rivals, in part by making manufacturers sign "anti-fragmentation agreements." The regulator, which published its decision in Korean, banned Google from forcing device makers to sign these agreements and said existing ones should be modified, according to Bloomberg. 

A company spokesperson said Google's compatibility program has spurred hardware and software innovation, bringing "enormous success" to Korean device makers and developers.

"This in turn has led to greater choice, quality and a better user experience for Korean consumers," the Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "The KFTC's decision released today ignores these benefits, and will undermine the advantages enjoyed by consumers." Google plans to appeal the KFTC decision. 

South Korea's moves are the latest in a campaign by regulators and lawmakers to establish limits for the tech industry. Last month, the country passed a bill that'll force Apple and Google to loosen restrictions they impose via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store