Google Play Delists Indian Apps: Dark Day For Indian Internet, Say Startup Founders

Google Play Delists Indian Apps: Dark Day For Indian Internet, Say Startup Founders


Multiple founders told Inc42 that their apps have been removed by Google following the Supreme Court ruling on February 9, which declined to provide relief to Indian app developers

Another founder told us that they were unfairly targeted as they had some fight left in them to fight against Google’s Murugavel Janakiraman and TrulyMadly’s Snehil Khanor called the move a dark day for Indian internet

Indian startup founders were left in a tizzy as Google Play began delisting some of the biggest apps from its Android app store for flouting its user choice billing system. Among the apps delisted are names such as, OTT platform STAGE, social media app FRND, as well as a host of apps that have been published by

Inc42 spoke to multiple founders who confirmed their apps have been removed by Google following the Supreme Court ruling on February 9, which declined to provide relief to Indian app developers.

While many founders told us that their companies received notices from Google about potentially delisting apps, the action came just a day after this notice was sent. TrulyMadly and STAGE claimed to have received the notice early on Friday, for instance.

Info Edge founder and chairman Sanjeev Bikhchandani also told Inc42 about receiving a notice from the tech giant. However, Bikhchandani added that at the moment no apps published by Info Edge have been removed by Google.

Speaking to Inc42,’s Murugavel Janakiraman said, “It’s a dark day for the Indian internet ecosystem. I urge the Indian government to free India’s internet from the clutches of tech giants.”

The Matrimony founder added that Google was using its dominance in the app marketplace space to stifle Indian developers and startups. He also claimed that the Matrimony’s apps cumulatively see close to 25,000 downloads per day and users have to resort to other avenues such as the company’s website to access these services.

Founders Lash Out Against Google Play was one of the companies that backed PhonePe’s Indus Appstore, the alternative app store for Android devices launched recently.

Even at the launch event, Janakiraman was clear that while earlier no one could gate-keep websites and platforms from the internet, Google’s dominance means all app makers have to bend to their whims and fancies.

Another startup founder claimed that the tech giant issues notices in the morning and delists the apps a few hours later, without giving startups any time to take any steps or respond. He also said that the delisting of apps comes despite the CCI order in the matter which prohibited Google from taking action against apps.

However, the tech giant believes that despite changing its rules after the CCI order, apps have not complied with new policies.

TrulyMadly cofounder and CEO Snehil Khanor told us that the company is looking at potential legal actions against Google in this matter. Khanor claimed the company is ready to file an appeal in the matter.

Khanor said that the delisting is in direct contravention of the 2022 order by the Competition Commission Of India which prohibited the tech major from restricting apps on its marketplace from using third-party payment systems, adding that the ruling also bans Google from imposing discriminatory policies on apps.

“Big tech companies have become the landlords of the digital ecosystem and want us to pay them ‘lagaan’. Hardly any business in India even makes 30% PAT, but they want to earn 30% of our revenue so they can keep getting bigger at our expense. Actually, it’s Google who is not complying with the CCI order,” added Khanor.

People Group founder and CEO Anupam Mittal also lambasted Google and said that the government needs to intervene and direct the CCI to ensure that the company is in compliance with the latter’s order and immediately restores all delisted apps, including

“In a blatant violation of the CCI order, Google has delisted some of the most well-known apps in India without any fore-warning. While there was a SC judgement on Feb 9 denying interim relief, the least that was expected from Google was to send a notice to developers. Now they are setting the narrative that they are doing this to be fair to other app developers. Amazing how quickly they went from ‘Don’t be evil’ to hallucinating like the Gen AI Gemini that they have built. This is indeed a dark day for India’s economy and its future,” Mittal said.

Google did not offer a statement in response to the charges from the startups and pointed us to a blog post published earlier in the day.

Without naming the apps, Google said 10 companies, including many well-established ones, have chosen to not pay for the immense value they receive on Google Play by securing interim protections from court.

Google’s primary contention is that these developers comply with payment policies of other app stores, while violating Google Play’s policies. The tech major also claimed that it has given more than three years to the said startups to prepare to comply with the policy.

“While we always try to work with developers to help them through our policies and find feasible solutions, allowing this small group of developers to get differential treatment from the vast majority of developers who are paying their fair share creates an uneven playing field across the ecosystem and puts all other apps and games at a competitive disadvantage,” Google said in the post.

Google Vs Indian Startups: The App Wars

At the heart of this battle is the user choice billing system introduced by Google last year after the CCI imposed an INR 936 Cr penalty against the company for flouting antitrust rules in the Android devices space.

While the previous billing regime imposed a commission of 15%-30% on developers, the company charged startups 11%-26% under the user choice billing system. The new policy also allowed third party payment systems, it specified a long list of compliance demands and paperwork for availing the service.

This did not go down well with startups as contested by a group of startups in the Madras and Delhi high courts. While most of the pleas were thrown out eventually, the matter is still pending before the CCI.

Bharat Matrimony,, Unacademy, Kuku FM, Alt Digital Media and Info Edge were among the companies that filed the petition in the Madras HC soon after the CCI’s ruling.

In the past, startups have publicly spoken out against the company for abusing its dominance in the app marketplace space and called for trimming the commissions and embedding external payments gateways without caveats.

In response to the CCI order, PhonePe was one of the first Indian startups to look at launching an alternative app store. The Bengaluru-based company’s platform is claimed to be home to more than 2 Lakh apps across 45 categories.

Indian apps such as Zomato, Myntra, Domino’s, Flipkart, Dream11, Swiggy among others have published their apps on Indus Appstore.

PhonePe cofounder and CEO Sameer Nigam believes the Indus Appstore challenges the status quo and ushers in an era of more healthy competition in the mobile app marketplace to create a more democratic and vibrant Indian digital ecosystem.

Unlike Google Play, the Indus Appstore insists that it won’t charge developers a listing fee for the first year. While PhonePe CEO Nigam did admit that there would be some commissions in the future, these would be relatively nominal and lower than existing commissions charged by Google and Apple.

“The primary focus will be on advertising, where developers would pay us to improve discovery of the apps, but this is not a mandate for developers. They can choose to not pay us if they want to leverage organic growth,” Nigam told Inc42 on the day of Indus Appstore’s launch.

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Google Play Delists Indian Apps: Dark Day For Indian Internet, Say Startup Founders-Inc42 Media
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