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S.Korea’s ONE store grows amid Google’s Play store policy row

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South Korea’s app market ONE store appears to be emerging as a possible alternative to Google’s Play store in the country as local app developers worry about increasing costs over the US tech giant’s decision to expand its 30 per cent commission fee to all in-app digital goods purchases later this year.

ONE store, a subsidiary of top wireless carrier SK Telecom Co., launched the app market in 2016 as a smaller rival to the Play store on Google’s Android operating system, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday.

The app market has since steadily grown, turning a profit for the first time last year, while transactions on the platform grew for the 10th consecutive quarter in the final three months of last year, according to the company.

Google’s new billing policy, set to take effect in October, presents a new opportunity for growth for the smaller app market contender that is seeking to go public in the second half of this year.

Google’s move is expected to raise fees for apps in South Korea newly impacted by the policy by up to $141.8 million this year from 2020, and 27.1 per cent of such app developers said they would use other app markets in response, according to a report from the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association.

Local app developers have expressed strong opposition to Google’s decision, requesting lawmakers limit the move.

Lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties have proposed bills that would ban app market operators from imposing specific payment methods in mobile content transactions.

ONE store has moved in to capitalise on the situation, deciding last October to offer a 50 per cent discount in commission fees for small app developers that record less than 5 million won in monthly transactions until the end of this year.

ONE store already offers lower commission rates than Google at 20 per cent, or 5 per cent for apps that use its platform’s payment system.

The company, however, faces a huge gap in market share compared to Google Play.

The US platform’s app sales in South Korea last year are estimated at over 5 trillion won, accounting for 66.5 per cent of the total, followed by Apple Inc.’s App Store at 1.6 trillion won with a 21.5 per cent stake and ONE store at 882.5 billion won with an 11.7 per cent share, according to the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association report.

–IANS


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