Google policy changes lead to higher app prices in South Korea

Daniel Sims

Posts: 760   +30
In brief: Starting Monday, all Android apps on the Google Play Store must use Google's billing system and pay the associated fees. South Korean developers are exempt due to a law the country passed last year, but apparently it wasn't enough to stop price increases on Android.

According to multiple South Korean publications, many Android apps in the country have started increasing in-app purchase prices to maintain revenues while paying the Google Play Store's required commission fees.

Google stopped exempting apps from using its billing system and paying its 15-30 percent sales cut on June 1. A 2021 law lets South Korean developers use third-party billers, but that incurs an 11-26 percent commission, which could still be significant for some companies.

Streaming app Tving raised its subscription prices by around 15 percent while similar hikes are confirmed for streaming apps Wavve and Seezn. Prices in the Naver and Kakao webtoon apps will go up by 10-20 percent. However, watcha and Coupang Play prices won't change.

Most troublesome for Google is that the price hikes only apply to Android in-app purchases. Customers who access these services on web browsers or iOS apps will pay the old prices. Google forbids developers from linking Android users to non-Android payment portals.

The Korean Publisher's Association filed a complaint with the Korean Communications Commission over Google's new rules, and the commission is currently investigating whether Google broke the new law.

Google threatened to take music service Bandcamp off the Play Store over the same policy but has backed off for now after a legal dispute with its new owner, Epic Games.

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