About two weeks ago, India’s leading financial services app Paytm dropped out of the Play Store. While this episode did not last long, as Google reinstated the app within hours, it triggered a widespread call to curb Google’s imbalanced dominance over the country’s app distribution market. This ruckus has now reached a point, where a local tech startup consortium is exploring an option to launch the Play Store option that frees it from Google’s control.
In most international markets, Apple and Google talk about app distribution together, but the situation in India is slightly worse. Given Almost all Smartphones sold in the country run Android, and in turn rely almost entirely on the Play Store, with Google gaining a monopoly. The call for setting up an alternative system was raised sporadically for a long time, but he became so vocal in the wake of his app’s takedown by Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma. The recent decision by Google to enforce in-app purchase rules more vigorously prevented flames.
TechCrunch sources said that the founders of dozens of Indian startups including MakeMyTrip, PolicyBazaar and ShareChat have formed a formal industry alliance with Sharma. The group held a meeting on Tuesday, according to ET Tech, to discuss the possibility of a rival app store promoting the Indian app ecosystem. It also wants the government to oversee and ensure “app neutrality” on the lines of the Net Neutrality Guidelines, although no formal dialogue has been done with the authorities yet.
In fact, Indus OS of India already maintains an App Store that hosts a lot of local apps and even Samsung’s Galaxy Store. However, the industry body has not yet reached the Samsung-supported Indus OS. Indus or not, a separate app store will raise some serious concerns over data security, privacy, transparency and even government snooping – as has been questioned by many members of the group. Meanwhile, Google has decided to make it easier to use a separate alternative App Store, which starts with Android 12, which should help if the consortium plans to meet its plans.
For reference, Google also leads the Indian UPI payments market with its dedicated Google Pay app, a Paytm arch rival. The company has also joined hands with Reliance Jio of India to make Android smartphones recently, which can be as low as $ 50 for those switching from feature phones.