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Google faces anti-trust probe over Android Auto

Google's corporate headquarters complex in Mountain View, California, US (Reuters-Yonhap)
Google's corporate headquarters complex in Mountain View, California, US (Reuters-Yonhap)

The South Korean government has started looking into an allegation that Google restricted applications downloaded from other app stores from accessing Android Auto, the company’s mobile operating software for in-car use.

According to the industry and government sources Sunday, the Korea Communications Commission has recently opened a probe to see if Google has violated the Telecommunications Business Act here.

“The commission would see if Google has unfairly limited end users’ access to third-party apps downloaded via other app store platforms,” an official from the Korea Communications Commission said. The official added that the commission could expand the investigation, depending on the findings of its probe.

Google’s Android Auto, which is installed in many of the popular cars from Hyundai Motor, Kia and Renault Samsung, does not allow applications downloaded via app store platforms other than its own Google Play, including SK Telecom’s One Store and Samsung’s Galaxy Store.

The country’s top mobile navigation system T map, for example, is currently downloadable both on Google Play and One Store. But, the application does not function on Android Auto when the application has been downloaded via One Store. The same issue occurs for other applications developed for in-car use.

Recently, Italy’s anti-trust watchdog handed down a $120 million fine to Google for not letting a third-party charging app on Android Auto in 2019. The US tech giant began opening up the platform to more third-party apps in 2020, international media reported.

Meanwhile, Google has been subjected to the South Korean government’s probes for the company’s alleged wrongdoings.

The Fair Trade Commission here has been investigating whether Google has lobbied local smartphone manufacturers to use Android to increase its market influence here.

Google has been suspected of abusing its market presence to force local game companies to launch their mobile games exclusively on Google Play.

The country’s antitrust watchdog is also administering a separate investigation into Google‘s Play store payment policy.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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