Google, on October 21, will host its first industry meeting, a webinar, with Indian app developers, startup founders and other stakeholders, as it looks to address concerns over its policies for the Play Store.
Since last month, when Google announced its intentions of enforcing a 30% cut on in-app purchases for Play-distributed apps and other policies, Indian startup founders and tech entrepreneurs have been up in arms. Many, including most notably Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, have slammed the 30% charge as an example of Google abusing its dominance. In a conference for mini-app developers, Sharma targeted Google and called the tech giant a “toll collector” as he talked about the Paytm Mini App Store.
After facing criticism from the Indian startup ecosystem over its Play Store policies, Google, earlier this month, deferred the implementation of the policies for Indian app developers by six months to April 2022. The policy will come into effect in other regions from October 2021.
The US-based tech giant’s global team has planned its first meeting with Indian app developers, startup founders and other stakeholders on October 21, reported CNBC-TV18. According to the report, Google has planned another meeting with Indian stakeholders next month.
Confirming the development, a Google spokesperson told Inc42, “As conveyed earlier, we are kicking off policy workshops with developers across India to enable greater access to our teams and to also get a deeper understanding of the unique needs of developers in India. These efforts are in line with our objectives to work together with the ecosystem, and grow together.”
“Google Deeply Committed To Indian Ecosystem”
Earlier this month, in a blog post, Google had said that it was “deeply committed to the success of the Indian ecosystem — we do not succeed unless our partners succeed.”
The company said that it was setting up listening sessions with leading Indian startups to address their concerns, also setting up additional sessions to clear the air about the Play Store policies, and deferring the deadline for Indian apps who use an alternative billing system, to integrate the Play Store’s billing system by March 31, 2022.
The blog post also clarified that the policies weren’t new and that Google always required app developers who distribute their apps on Play to use Google Play’s billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods. “In fact, more than 97% of developers with apps on Google Play already comply with the policy,” Google claimed in its blog post.
While Google has been bullish about the potential of India’s digital economy, even constituting a $10 Bn-worth India Digitisation Fund earlier this year, the enforcement of its Play Store’s policies of late has peeved some Indian startups.
Last month, Google removed Paytm’s marquee payments app from the Play Store for a few hours, saying that the app was violating the Play Store policies on gambling. Earlier this month, the company issued notices to Swiggy and Zomato, asking them to remove the gamification techniques being employed on their mobile applications.
The announcement of its intentions to charge a 30% levy on in-app purchases on Play-distributed apps saw Indian startup founders form an informal coalition on Twitter, where they talked about the possibility of an Indian App Store. Further, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) called for a huddle of Indian tech entrepreneurs to discuss Google Play’s billing policies.
Several representatives of Indian startups have also held meetings with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to discuss Google’s Play Store policies. Meanwhile, it was reported that the Indian government is developing an Indian App Store to challenge the Google-Apple duopoly. Although, there has been no confirmation from the government on that front.