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Will an Indian alternative to Play Store and App Store emerge?

Google Play Store
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The recent Google Play Store fiasco with PayTM and the emerging controversy over Google's 30% fee demand for using the Play Store seem to be leading to the inevitable: A plea for setting up an Indian digital app ecosystem.

According to multiple reports, a number of prominent technology entrepreneurs in India are joining forces in a bid to create an indigenous app store and reduce the dominance of US tech biggies Google and Apple.

A bunch of Indian technology entrepreneurs have had a meeting this week and discussed ways and means to set up a platform that will host apps, especially Indian ones and not be at the mercy of companies like Google and Apple.

Tech companies are doubtless concerned at the monopolistic approach of both Google and Apple.

Google under fire for its monopolistic ways

The issue has been brewing for nearly a year or so. But when Google temporarily removed India's dominant digital payment app PayTM from the Play Store, the matter came to a head. 

And it further got vitiated with the move by Google to increase the commission on purchases made on its app store.

This has a brought of clutch of influential Indian firms together and petition the Indian government to help create an Indian digital ecosystem. And with the mood still dominated by 'Make in  India', there seems to be plenty of takers to the idea.

According to a report in Economic Times, "Paytm's Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Yashish Dahiya of Policybazaar and Murugavel Janakiraman of Matrimony.com, plan to approach the country's banking regulator as well as the finance ministry seeking redressal for Google's recent move to increase commission on purchases made on its app store."

As it happens, just yesterday, food delivery apps Swiggy and Zomato have received notices from Google stating that the in-app gamification feature used by both platforms violate its Play Store guidelines. 

Google's actions have been questioned by legal experts who question its right to play both the gatekeeper and policy maker due to the obvious conflict of interest. Android holds more than 90% share in India's mobile market and amounts to Google playing judge, jury and executioner, is the general opinion.

Politics behind Google and FB investment in India?

Even as the move against Google, and by extension against Apple, gathers momentum, there is a belief in certain sections in India that both Google and Facebook have invested in Jio Platforms in the hope that it brings with it some leverage with the India government. The suggestion here is that the Reliance Industries, which owns Jio Platforms, is powerful enough to influence Indian governmental policies.

Whether it is true or not, the fact is the fight against companies like Google, Apple and Facebook is not going to be easy. Even in the US there have been antitrust cases against them. But nothing has emerged out of them.

In India, the move against Google and Apple may, however, help Indus OS (on Android platform), which has a suite of localized applications focused on serving the Indian market. Interestingly, Samsung and Venturest have funded the four-year-old startup’s $5.75 million Series B round last year. 

Indus OS over 100 million monthly active users. This should be a good number to build on.

Balakumar K

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.