Companies consider alternative listing for apps via APK downloads on their websites
Startups may even look at creating an NPO to run a likely app store listing for Indian apps
Technology giant Google is being prompted to soften its stance in India after pushback from startup founders in the country over its policies. Some startups are already looking at alternative listing for their apps through Android Application Package (APK) downloads on their websites. There are instances such as fantasy sports platform Dream11 getting 100 million users without listing on Google Play Store, the founders said.
Startups are also demanding fair play as Google, which is used by 95% of Indian digital consumers, controls the entire tech stack right from an operating system (Android) to app-distribution through its Play Store. These firms may even look at creating a non-profit organization to run a possible app store listing for Indian apps. However, discussions are at an early stage.
Google has started meeting with various app developers in the country to “understand their concerns more deeply" and will also host “policy workshops" where it will answer questions by developers about its policies. Indian startups will get six extra months to comply with its billing rules on Play Store, Google had said on Sunday.
The Centre, which has been in listening mode so far, has asked startups to send a letter apprising it of the challenges. The founders plan to send this by next week. A view will be firmed up after deliberations at various levels, a government official said.
“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," said Akash Karmakar, partner, Law Offices of Panag and Babu.
Bipin Preet Singh, founder CEO, MobiKwik, a payment service, which was also briefly removed from Play Store in May, rubbished the 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 said.
Nearly 24 startup founders, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, recently spoke 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 Ltd.