The Korea Herald


Google or Apple? ONE Store emerges as cheaper 3rd option

Homegrown app market forms alliance with Blizzard, Microsoft, Tencent to challenge monopoly

By Kim Byung-wook

Published : Aug. 23, 2021 - 15:36

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ONE Store CEO Lee Jae-hwan (ONE Store) ONE Store CEO Lee Jae-hwan (ONE Store)

South Korea’s own app market operator ONE Store said Monday it will go global in 2022 and challenge the dual hegemony of Google and Apple by charging commissions up to one-third cheaper.

During an online press conference, CEO Lee Jae-hwan announced that the firm has teamed up with Blizzard, Microsoft and Tencent to expand beyond the Korean market and launch a global version of the ONE Store in 2022.

“Due to the recent monopoly issue in the app market, ONE Store is getting increasingly more attention. By competing against giant players, ONE Store is faithfully fulfilling its role as a market moderator,” Lee said.

According to Lee, the global version of the Korean app store will be based on Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure and it will be completed by the end of this year. Also, together with Chinese game giant Tencent, it will develop a cross-platform system called “One Gameloop,” which allows a seamless gaming experience across PC, mobile and console platforms.

To attract new users to ONE Store, Lee added that the company has signed an agreement with US game developer Blizzard to launch its much-anticipated mobile game Diablo Immortal on the platform.

What sets apart the ONE Store from Google and Apple is its provocative pricing policy. In contrast to Google Play and App Store, which take up to a 30 percent cut of payments made within apps they offer, ONE Store charges a 20 percent cut. Also, while the two giants mandate all in-app purchases be made through their independent billing systems, ONE Store allows app developers to operate charging systems of their choosing.

Since its launch in Korea in 2018, the ONE Store has positioned itself as a local alternative to Google’s Play and Apple’s App Store. Backed by the nation’s top three telecom carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ -- who are also shareholders of ONE Store -- the company launched an aggressive marketing campaign, giving cashback to telecom subscribers if they make purchases on ONE Store.

ONE Store gave back benefits worth 322 billion won ($274.2 million) to 3 million users through telecom membership, the CEO said.

“As a result, ONE Store propelled growth for 12 consecutive months since the first quarter of 2018. Transactions made on the platform increased 2.4 times from 230 billion won in the first half of 2018 to 550 billion in the first half of this year. Revenue jumped 1.9 times to 52.4 billion won to 100.7 billion won in the same period,” Lee said, adding that the platform turned a profit in the first half of this year.

Thanks to the ONE Store’s cheaper commissions, app developers saved an accumulated 140 billion won over the last three years, the executive claimed. In 2018, of the 30 most popular games, only four were registered on ONE Store. The figure grew to 12 this year, according to Lee.

It hasn’t been decided whether the partnership with Blizzard is a global one or is limited to Korea. ONE Store’s first overseas market is likely to be in Southeast Asia, as the company has close ties with a Singapore-based telecom carrier.