Apple, Google want White House to challenge South Korean legislation on app stores

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2021
With their respective app stores jeopardized by a proposed South Korean bill, Apple and Google are looking to the U.S. government for help, setting up a delicate balancing act for the Biden administration.

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Driven in part by developer outcry, a bill in South Korea seeks to force app store operators to accept alternative payment options for in-app purchases. Currently, Apple requires use of its own payments system, allowing the company to dip into App Store profits by taking an up to 30% cut of sales.

The legislation, which is anticipated to face a vote this week, would also prohibit app store owners from forcing developers into platform exclusivity.

If passed, the South Korean legislation would be the first of its kind in the world. Apple and Google, however, have been challenging the proposal for months, appealing directly to lawmakers and officials in the country to block the bill's passage, reports The New York Times.

A U.S. trade group called the Information Technology Industry Council, which counts Apple and Google as funding members, is taking the fight to the companies' domestic market, saying the legislation could violate a joint trade agreement, the report said.

Specifically, the group in October urged the U.S. Trade Representative to note concerns about the South Korean bill in an annual report highlighting "barriers" to foreign trade, The Times reports. If implemented, the app store ruling could violate a 2007 accord regarding discrimination of businesses, the ITIC argues.

The trade representative's report did include mention of the tech industry's concerns, stating that the South Korea law's "requirement to permit users to use outside payment services appears to specifically target U.S. providers and threatens a standard U.S. business model."

Still, officials in the U.S. have not taken a firm stance on the subject, according to USTR representative Adam Hodge. At issue are concerns about the tech industry raised by U.S. lawmakers, many of which align with South Korea's view.

"We are engaging a range of stakeholders to gather facts as legislation is considered in Korea, recognizing the need to distinguish between discrimination against American companies and promoting competition," Hodge said in a statement to The Times.

Following the trade representative's report, the managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, another group backed by Apple and Google, held up the findings in a July statement to Korea's trade minister. At the time, the director said the law "could provoke trade tensions between the United States and South Korea."

Apple in a statement said it discussed the South Korean law with American officials, including at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and maintains passage of the bill would "put users who purchase digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases," the report said.

The ask is a difficult one to parse for Biden, who has indicated a willingness to tackle alleged Big Tech monopolies. The administration will need to walk a tightrope in balancing the defense of foreign antitrust claims against American companies with the investigation of those same grievances at home.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    I have never been to a grocery store, anywhere, that allowed the vendors of the products they sell to process my purchases separately. When I go shopping for groceries I put what I need into a carriage or basket, take that to one register and pay for everything using the stores payment system. I don’t pay for my bread with the bread guy, then pay for my orange juice with the Tropicana representative, then pay for my cheese with the store.  

    What kind of nonsense is it that some developers expect me to deal with that sort of disjointed payment system every time I have to pay for an app?

    The only way I’d be OK with their goofy idea would be if I could choose to use their payment option or use Apple’s, which I already have set up and trust. Also, make it a toggle in Settings so I don’t need to choose every time when iI already know what I want. 
    mwhiterob53watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    I have never been to a grocery store, anywhere, that allowed the vendors of the products they sell to process my purchases separately. When I go shopping for groceries I put what I need into a carriage or basket, take that to one register and pay for everything using the stores payment system. I don’t pay for my bread with the bread guy, then pay for my orange juice with the Tropicana representative, then pay for my cheese with the store.  

    What kind of nonsense is it that some developers expect me to deal with that sort of disjointed payment system every time I have to pay for an app?

    The only way I’d be OK with their goofy idea would be if I could choose to use their payment option or use Apple’s, which I already have set up and trust. Also, make it a toggle in Settings so I don’t need to choose every time when iI already know what I want. 
    The iPhone is not a grocery store, it's a product.  Your bread does not have an App Store that you can use to enhance the bread, the closest thing is has to that is condiments, which you can buy from any grocery store you want, you don't have to buy them from the baker.  Imagine the world where your bread had BRM on it to ensure that you only buttered it with baker approved butter.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    crowley said:
    I have never been to a grocery store, anywhere, that allowed the vendors of the products they sell to process my purchases separately. When I go shopping for groceries I put what I need into a carriage or basket, take that to one register and pay for everything using the stores payment system. I don’t pay for my bread with the bread guy, then pay for my orange juice with the Tropicana representative, then pay for my cheese with the store.  

    What kind of nonsense is it that some developers expect me to deal with that sort of disjointed payment system every time I have to pay for an app?

    The only way I’d be OK with their goofy idea would be if I could choose to use their payment option or use Apple’s, which I already have set up and trust. Also, make it a toggle in Settings so I don’t need to choose every time when iI already know what I want. 
    The iPhone is not a grocery store, it's a product.  Your bread does not have an App Store that you can use to enhance the bread, the closest thing is has to that is condiments, which you can buy from any grocery store you want, you don't have to buy them from the baker.  Imagine the world where your bread had BRM on it to ensure that you only buttered it with baker approved butter.
    I’m not following. This article is about app stores and allowing alternative payment methods. It’s in the first sentence of the second paragraph: “Driven in part by developer outcry, a bill in South Korea seeks to force app store operators to accept alternative payment options for in-app purchases.”

    The grocery store analogy is fitting. I don’t see how your bread DRM example fits. If I want to buy condiments I still pay for them using the grocery store’s system, not through the actual producer of said condiments. 
    edited August 2021 mwhiterob53watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 6
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,513member
    crowley said:
    I have never been to a grocery store, anywhere, that allowed the vendors of the products they sell to process my purchases separately. When I go shopping for groceries I put what I need into a carriage or basket, take that to one register and pay for everything using the stores payment system. I don’t pay for my bread with the bread guy, then pay for my orange juice with the Tropicana representative, then pay for my cheese with the store.  

    What kind of nonsense is it that some developers expect me to deal with that sort of disjointed payment system every time I have to pay for an app?

    The only way I’d be OK with their goofy idea would be if I could choose to use their payment option or use Apple’s, which I already have set up and trust. Also, make it a toggle in Settings so I don’t need to choose every time when iI already know what I want. 
    The iPhone is not a grocery store, it's a product.  Your bread does not have an App Store that you can use to enhance the bread, the closest thing is has to that is condiments, which you can buy from any grocery store you want, you don't have to buy them from the baker.  Imagine the world where your bread had BRM on it to ensure that you only buttered it with baker approved butter.
    I’m not following. This article is about app stores and allowing alternative payment methods. It’s in the first sentence of the second paragraph: “Driven in part by developer outcry, a bill in South Korea seeks to force app store operators to accept alternative payment options for in-app purchases.”

    The grocery store analogy is fitting. I don’t see how your bread DRM example fits. If I want to buy condiments I still pay for them using the grocery store’s system, not through the actual producer of said condiments. 
    The grocer doesn't have a payment system. They simply use their own hardware in order to permit payment processing that they pay a percentage of their sales to use. The payment system comes from VISA/Mastercard and Amex and Discover and Apple Pay, and etc.who collect a fee for processing it and then give them the remainder after their cut.

    BTW did you know that Apple keeps all the money from the app sale for anywhere from 30 to 60 days? That's probably one reason among a few that a developer would want to run their own payments. They'd get much faster access to the money they earned. My companies for example receive payments within a day, two at most, from the payment processor. A weeks-long delay is one reason I no longer bother with Walmart projects. On top of insisting on the lowest possible pricing and very tight delivery windows they then want to hold my money and play the float for 8 weeks at least before paying me. 

    On the other hand if I wanted to be a Walmart Marketplace seller I'd get paid for my sales every two weeks, or if big enough every week.  Amazon has generally the same payment schedule to the product provider, payouts every two weeks.

    EDIT: Google for their part pays out to GooglePlay developers a few days after the end of a month, so somewhat better than the AppStore but not great.
    edited August 2021
  • Reply 5 of 6
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    crowley said:
    I have never been to a grocery store, anywhere, that allowed the vendors of the products they sell to process my purchases separately. When I go shopping for groceries I put what I need into a carriage or basket, take that to one register and pay for everything using the stores payment system. I don’t pay for my bread with the bread guy, then pay for my orange juice with the Tropicana representative, then pay for my cheese with the store.  

    What kind of nonsense is it that some developers expect me to deal with that sort of disjointed payment system every time I have to pay for an app?

    The only way I’d be OK with their goofy idea would be if I could choose to use their payment option or use Apple’s, which I already have set up and trust. Also, make it a toggle in Settings so I don’t need to choose every time when iI already know what I want. 
    The iPhone is not a grocery store, it's a product.  Your bread does not have an App Store that you can use to enhance the bread, the closest thing is has to that is condiments, which you can buy from any grocery store you want, you don't have to buy them from the baker.  Imagine the world where your bread had BRM on it to ensure that you only buttered it with baker approved butter.
    I’m not following. This article is about app stores and allowing alternative payment methods. It’s in the first sentence of the second paragraph: “Driven in part by developer outcry, a bill in South Korea seeks to force app store operators to accept alternative payment options for in-app purchases.”

    The grocery store analogy is fitting. I don’t see how your bread DRM example fits. If I want to buy condiments I still pay for them using the grocery store’s system, not through the actual producer of said condiments. 
    Ok, let me rework it a bit, since I think lost sight of the goal there in trying to fit your analogy.

    Bread doesn't have in app purchases.  That's it.  Nothing you can buy from a grocer has in-app purchases. Analogy falls down there.

    As an alternative, let's take the iPhone itself.  The iPhone is sold by carriers.  Imagine if the only thing you could buy on your iPhone had to have a kick back to the carrier because they generated the original sale.  That's exactly the approach Apple is taking with In-App Purchases, that because they made the phone, they own all purchases from the single allowed App Store and they also own all purchases made from apps (some exceptions apply).  

    That's a hell of a land grab, there's nothing else quite like what Apple and Google are doing, certainly not outside of technology.  I'm pretty sure everyone would hate it if carriers did that (as they used to, a while ago), and now there are some people who understandably hate that Apple are doing it.

    To be clear, I think Apple's payments solution is great, and in all likelihood I wouldn't buy from any apps that didn't use it.  But that doesn't mean I think apps should be forced to use it, at a very high processing rate, for in app purchases which Apple has no hand in.
    edited August 2021 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 6
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,583member
    As the US Congress is debating analogous bills to regulate, restrict, and open up store function and availability on iPhones and Android Phones, this is could be an awkward discussion for the Administration. If they don't support Apple and Google's request, they will look like they're anti business. If they do, they will look hypocritical. 
    gatorguy
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