Google says it offers $10.25 billion in consumer benefits in S. Korea annually

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Seoul, Sep 15 (IANS) Google on Wednesday said it offers around 12 trillion won (US$10.25 billion) in economic benefits for South Korean consumers annually through its services, highlighting its presence in the country amid growing scrutiny from local regulators and politicians over allegations of unfair business practices.

During an online recorded event, the tech giant said it provides 5.1 trillion won per year in benefits for South Koreans through its Play store, 4.2 trillion won through its search service, and 2.5 trillion won through its productivity programs, including Google Docs, citing analysis from AlphaBeta, a Singapore-based economics strategy firm.

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Google added that it also provides 10.5 trillion won in economic benefits annually for South Korean companies.

Google’s announcement came a day after the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fined the tech giant 207.4 billion won for pressing smartphone makers into only using its Android mobile operating system.

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The tech giant has said it plans to appeal the regulator’s decision, arguing that the KFTC did not properly consider the benefits its Android program provided to South Korean companies and consumers, reports Yonhap news agency.

Google pointed to other contributions it makes to South Korea during the event, adding that YouTube is estimated to have contributed 1.59 trillion won to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and helped create 86,030 jobs last year, citing analysis from Oxford Economics.

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The company touted that 5,500 YouTube channels in South Korea have over 100,000 subscribers, while over 500 channels in the country have over 1 million subscribers.

“We will continue to work with YouTubers to grow together and to develop a thriving ecosystem in Korea,” Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO, said at the event.

Google still faces increasing scrutiny from regulators and politicians in South Korea over its far-reaching influence in the mobile ecosystem.

The National Assembly passed a new law late last month that bars app store giants, such as Google, from forcing their proprietary payment systems on app developers.

The KFTC is also looking into whether Google allegedly forced mobile game applications to be only released on its Play store. A probe is under way into Google’s unfair business practice over the sale of digital ads.

–IANS

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