Sep 1, 2021 - Technology

South Korea's new App Store law makes global waves

This illustration photo shows the Apple app store logo reflected from an iPhone onto the back of an iMac in Los Angeles, August 26, 2021.

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers in South Korea have passed legislation to force Apple and Google to allow rival in-app payment mechanisms within their mobile operating systems.

Why it matters: While the legislation is limited to South Korea, lawmakers and regulators around the globe have also been weighing action on mobile app stores and could seek to force a similar move in other regions.

Driving the news: South Korea is poised to become the first country in the world to force Apple and Google to allow rival in-app payment systems under a law passed Tuesday.

  • Last week, Apple reached a tentative deal to settle a class-action lawsuit from developers. While Apple would make some concessions, the proposed agreement would keep in place the company's ban on rival in-app payment systems and app stores.
  • The same judge who has to approve that settlement is also set to rule shortly on a lawsuit brought by "Fortnite" maker Epic Games against Apple. That suit seeks to force Apple to allow rival payment systems and app stores. Epic also has a pending suit against Google.

The big picture: For both Apple and Google, app store control has meant revenue and power over smartphone software ecosystems, and Apple in particular has argued that its control creates a better experience for users. But governments around the world are beginning to question that argument and define app stores as old-fashioned monopolies.

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