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Startups mount pressure on Google to soften stance on Play Store in India

Google is facing a pushback from startup founders in the country over its Play Store policies. 

As per reports, some startups in India are already looking at alternative listings for their apps through Android Application Package (APK) downloads from their websites instead of using Google's Play Store. 
As per reports, some startups in India are already looking at alternative listings for their apps through Android Application Package (APK) downloads from their websites instead of using Google's Play Store.  (REUTERS)

Google is under pressure and is being prompted to soften its stance in India after facing a pushback from startup founders in the country over its Play Store policies, according to a Mint report.

As per reports, some startups in India are already looking at alternative listings for their apps through Android Application Package (APK) downloads from their websites. According to founders, there are instances such as fantasy sports platform Dream11 getting 100 million users without being listed on the Google Play Store.

These startups are also demanding fair play as Google controls the entire tech stack right from the operating system (Android) to app distribution via the Play Store. And it is also used by 95% of Indian digital consumers.

The startup firms may also consider creating a non-profit organisation to run a possible app store listing for Indian apps. However, these discussions are at early stages.

Also Read: Google defers its Play Store billing policy in India to March 2022

Google has reportedly started meeting various app developers in the country to “understand their concerns” better and will also be hosting policy workshops where the company will be answering questions from developers about its policies.

For now, Indian startups are getting six extra months to comply with Google’s Play Store billing rules, as Google announced on Sunday.

The Centre had just been on “listening mode” so far but has now asked startups to send a letter listing out the challenges they have been facing. The founders plan to send in the letter by next week, Mint reported. As per a government official, a view will be considered after deliberations at various levels.

“One could surmise that the discontentment among Indian apps regarding Google Play’s commission demands, coupled with a public policy and regulatory shift favouring an indigenous app store may have played a role in Google Play’s flexibility," Akash Karmakar, partner, Law Offices of Panag and Babu, told Mint.

Also Read: Paytm challenges Google with its own Mini App store

Bipin Preet Singh, founder and CEO of MobiKwik (which was also briefly removed from Play Store in May like Paytm was), rubbished this six-month deferment of Play Store billing. 

“There has to be stringent regulation in India, which asks tech conglomerates to operate with fairness and transparency while allowing for competition to thrive. No longer are they (Google) appealing to the good of any company... they can’t control the OS, app-distribution and launch their own apps. These need to be decoupled and all founders are looking at alternatives to list their apps," Singh told Mint.

Nearly 24 startup founders, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, have recently spoken to the ministry of electronics and information technology against Google’s policies.

“They need to remove the 30% commission in India and stop forcing companies to use only their Play Store billing system. All we ask is for fair play. Today, startups are at the mercy of Google, where they can randomly remove any app from the Play Store," said Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO of Matrimony.com told Mint.

Snehil Khanor, co-founder and CEO, TrulyMadly.com said Facebook and Google are “taking India’s capital away by colonising digital economy”.

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