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Indian developers have urged govt to regulate Google. Reuters
Indian developers have urged govt to regulate Google. Reuters

120 startups to form association to take on Google

  • Around 120 firms are in favour of forming the association, which will be a non-profit, and autonomous

The heads of more than 120 startups are planning to form an indigenous app developers’ association within a month to lobby against global technology giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple, said three startup founders. The move comes against the backdrop of discontent among Indian startups against Google.

The association, which will be a non-profit, will be independent of existing bodies, such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), said Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of Matrimony.com. The new association will be used only to lobby the cause of app developers in India. Interestingly, IAMAI, which represents India’s digital and mobile ecosystem, and has Google India as a member, also held a closed-door meeting on Saturday, to hear the concerns of Indian startups against the Google’s growing monopoly.

IAMAI refused to comment on the matter. Google India also continued to maintain its silence on the matter.

“We as a group of Indian startup developers will come together to make an independent congregation. They (Google) cannot be a single gatekeeper to the whole Indian internet ecosystem, especially when they claim to be a non-Indian entity. This is similar to the ‘Salt Movement," said Paytm founder and chief executive officer Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Google had recently reiterated its Play Billing policy, which makes it mandatory for Indian developers using Play to pay 30% commission for the same. This was received with outrage by homegrown startup founders, which forced Google to then soften its stance and provide an extension for the rule to come into effect to 31 March 2022.

But, founders are still not happy and urging the Centre to regulate Google and other big tech firms, while doing away with commissions and arbitrary policies of the Play Store. “If they are charging 30% commission for just providing Play Store, they should at least offer customer care service to Indian apps," said Sharma.

On Thursday, Paytm announced the launch of a mini-app store to help small businesses get discovered. It also launched a 10 crore developer fund, which will work as an incubator to support Indian app-creators.

tarush.b@livemint.com

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