Apple Korea, which has continued to take advantage of its power in the domestic communication market, had its Seoul office raided by South Korean Authorities. All eyes are on whether the investigation into unfair business practices of Apple Korea, which has delayed for over a year, will be concluded as it was carried out before the official launch of its 10th anniversary iPhone X.
According to the government and mobile communication industry sources on November 24, Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly visited the headquarters of Apple’s Korean operation at Asem Tower in Seoul for four days from the 20th to investigate whether the company violated the country’s economic competition law. The probe was launched in 17 months after June last year when the antitrust watchdog started looking into Apple’s high-handed business practices.
Apple Korea is suspected of requiring Korean mobile phone carriers to pay the cost of television advertisements and other promotional activities for iPhones, obligating mobile carriers to order a certain amount of products to sell in the country, shifting the responsibility for defective products to mobile carriers, ordering mobile carriers to follow its own guidelines in designing advertisements and refusing to provide subsidies to consumers. A British news media outlet said on the 23rd (local time), “The Korean Fair Trade Commission has raided Apple Korea’s office as it prepares to launch the iPhone X. The Korean government sent investigators to probe into the iPhone maker’s business practices ahead of the iPhone X launch in the country.”
On the same day, the FTC was also likely to look into the price of the iPhone X in the domestic market. Korean consumers will have to pay 200,000 won (US$184) more to purchase the iPhone X than American and Japanese customers. An official from a domestic mobile carrier said, “The FTC raided Apple’s office in Seoul. It means that it might find indications of wrongdoing investigated.” In this regard, the FTC said, “We can’t comment on the issue.” France levied a fine of 48.5 million euros (US$57.58 million or 64 billion won) on Apple for unfair business practices with local mobile carriers his year.