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Indian startups mull rebel alliance to take on Google Play Store

Could we see an alternative app store launching in India as a result of this alliance?

Published onOctober 1, 2020

Google Play Store 2020 best Android apps
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
  • Indian startups are considering the formation of an alliance against Google.
  • Executives reportedly agreed that a 30% commission wouldn’t be feasible in India.
  • Play Store policies around gambling apparently accelerated talks.

Android’s dominance in the Indian smartphone space has been pivotal to the growth of several internet startups, but it appears that the same startups are now banding against Google’s stranglehold on the app store and payments.

Techcrunch reports that some of the top startups in India are working to form an alliance that would bypass Google’s Play Store guidelines and potentially launch an alternative app store. The move has gained momentum after Paytm, a popular payments solution app, was pulled off the Play Store citing multiple infractions of Google’s policies around gambling.

In addition to Paytm, Google also reached out to food delivery giants like Swiggy and Zomato. With the Indian Premier League, India’s largest sporting event, underway, several startups are looking to cash in on betting via fantasy leagues.

Google recently announced plans to better enforce its in-app purchase policies, which could see more apps having to start paying a 30% commission on in-app purchases.

Related: Google starts its crackdown on Android in-app purchases in 2021

According to Techcrunch, executives from major Indian startups attended a call earlier this week where it was unanimously agreed upon that a 30% commission would be unfeasible. Apps and services in India tend to have lower regional pricing to account for local economics. A commission on top would be unsustainable for local players without passing on the cost to consumers.

Earlier this year Google announced a partnership with Jio, India’s largest telecom player, to market and develop low-cost Android smartphones. Potentially priced at $50, shipments of the smartphone are expected to exceed 200 million units over the next three years. Jio’s scale and prevalence of its own curated app store could also throw a spanner in the alliance’s plans.

Regardless, it remains to be seen how the alliance plays out. However, there is no doubt that gaining traction in India will be an uphill task for any third party app store.

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