Indian startups want local app store to fight Google dominance

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Photo by Fascinadora |

Top Indian startups and entrepreneurs may form an alliance to push for an India-specific app store as they look to counter the dominance of US-based companies Google and Apple. The development follows Google’s recent move to increase commission to 30% on purchases made on its app store.

These startups and entrepreneurs, including Vijay Shekhar Sharma of PayTM, Deep Kalra of travel ticketing firm MakeMyTrip, and executives from PolicyBazaar, and Sharechat, are now planning to reach out to the Indian government seeking support to establish a “large-scale platform” that will host local apps and break the duopoly of Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, according to a report by the Economic Times.

Arguing about the latest move, these startups said that current Indian laws don’t allow any MDR (merchant discount rate) or transaction charge on UPI (Unified Payments Interface) transactions.

The group of startups will also approach India’s banking regulator and the finance ministry against Google’s move to impose 30% commission. They said that a 30% cut to Google is simply unfeasible.

“If India has net neutrality, why can’t we have app neutrality … over 80% of those accessing the internet in India do so through digital applications and ‘it can’t be completely controlled by Google since they own the Play Store’,” Murugavel Janakiraman of was quoted as saying by the publication.

Vishwas Patel, founder of payment gateway CCAvenue said that an Indian app store can help local internet companies and startups in case there are some kind of restrictions imposed due to geopolitical tensions.

Razorpay cofounder and CEO Harshil Mathur also said that an Indian app store is a logical alternative but the country requires a broader policy framework to find a more permanent resolution. “Google’s commission would make things tough. A 30% commission on in-app payments is exorbitant and could kill so many businesses in India,” he was quoted as saying.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a lobby group for internet-based businesses, said that Google has control over many layers between customers and their service providers as more than 90% use Android phones. “The Indian founders’ community is on fire at the announcement of the policy.”

After the recent PayTM incident, more local companies expressed concerns about Google’s Play Store’s gambling policy and the “monopolistic approach”. Google had taken down the application of India’s most valuable startup for alleged violation of Play Store guidelines. 

TV channel ET Now separately reported that India may ramp up its “Mobile Seva” App Store and launch a full-fledged app store for everyone in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s self-reliant vision.

The government app store currently hosts only government-centric apps.

“Android has a 97% market-share in India. So, we should intervene and handhold Indian startups … the store would not charge the 30% fee to host apps unlike Google or Apple,” government sources were quoted as saying by the business TV news channel.

Handset makers like Samsung and Xiaomi also offer their customised app stores. India also has the Indus OS app store, which has over 100 million monthly active users in the country. 

The app store, backed by Samsung, has been able to achieve 100 million active users through its partnerships with several handset makers in the country. Reports suggest that startups and various other internet companies can also reach out to IndusOS.

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