SEOUL, March 3 (Korea Bizwire) — Major South Korean telecom operators KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. said Wednesday they invested a total of 26 billion won (US$23.1 million) for a minority stake in the homegrown app market ONE store, bolstering the smaller local rival to Google’s Play store.
KT has invested 21 billion won for a 3.1 percent stake, while LG Uplus has clinched a 0.7 percent stake with 5 billion won, according to a joint statement from the mobile carriers.
The two telecom operators join the existing majority shareholder and the country’s largest wireless carrier SK Telecom Co., which now has a 50.1 percent stake, and local tech giant Naver Corp., which has a 26.3 percent share in the company.
The move comes as ONE store prepares to go public sometime this year after steady growth since its launch in 2016.
ONE store was originally formed by combining app markets from the three mobile carriers and that of Naver as a local alternative to Google’s Play store on the Android operating system.
While the homegrown app market has struggled against its larger rival, it turned a profit for the first time last year and its share of the local app market reached 18.3 percent as of August last year, compared with Google’s Play at 71.2 percent and Apple Inc.’s App Store at 10.5 percent, the carriers said, citing data from IGAWorks.
ONE store has also recently drawn attention as local app developers worry about increasing costs over Google’s decision to enforce its billing system that would take a 30 percent commission fee on in-app digital goods purchases to all Play store apps later this year.
ONE store already offers lower commission rates at 20 percent.
The app market is also offering a 50 percent discount in commission fees for small app developers that record less than 5 million won in monthly transactions until the end of this year.