Apple could be in more trouble over South Korea app store laws

App Store on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

South Korea is set to launch an investigation into both Apple and Google over claims the app store giants may be breaking its new in-app payments laws. 

If found guilty Apple could be fined up to 2% of the average annual revenue from its App Store, under new laws in the country that mean companies like Apple must let developers offer alternative payments on devices like the iPhone. 

As reported by Reuters, "The Korea Communications Commissions (KCC) said in a statement it had conducted an inspection since May 17 to determine whether Google, Apple, and One Store had violated the rules and had determined that all three might have done so."

Hot water

The laws and dispute concern the same pain points raised by Epic Games in Apple's major App Store legal battle last year. Apple believes it has a right to enforce its in-app payment system on developers, taking a chunk of each transaction made on iPhone and iPad as commission for creating the ecosystem. 

Some developers and countries legislating against this business model, including both South Korea and the Netherlands, believe that developers and consumers should be able to choose between systems like Apple's in-app payment systems and other third-party alternative payment options. 

This has been positioned by some, such as Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, as a way to circumvent Apple's App Store fees of up to 30%. In reality, the company is charging 27% on alternative payments, retaining its right to collect commission on all transactions made by its platforms. The court that ruled against Epic Games last year also forced it to pay some $6 million to Apple in "lost" commission that wasn't paid when Epic Games broke the App Store's rules. 

The KCC did not specify how Apple might have broken its new laws, but the report notes that possible infringements include "app market operators unfairly delaying the review of mobile content, or refusing, delaying, restricting, deleting, or blocking the registration, renewal, or inspection of mobile content that uses third-party payment methods."

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9