The war of words for the control and ownership of the app economy has reached a crescendo. After Paytm was pulled up for allegedly violating Google Play Store’s gambling payments policies last month, food delivery apps Swiggy and Zomato were also called out by the software giant.
Google’s Monday missive to reiterate its policy under which it will deduct 30% commission for all in-app purchases for digital goods, has made some startup founders take to social media to speak against Google and Apple’s duopoly.
One of the common strains in their bemoan has been the absence of an all-Indian app store to reduce the dependency on global tech giants who have increasingly come under criticism for alleged unfair practices aimed at cornering market share.
“India needs a local app store long term else 30% tax will eat up most businesses, is anyone trying to build one?” Harshil Mathur, chief executive officer of payments platform Razorpay, said on Twitter. Mathur’s tweet was reiterated by Akash Dongre, co-founder of Indian app store, IndusOS. He tweeted, “We believe India should become self-sufficient and have its own Indian app ecosystem.”
Meanwhile, taking cognisance of the concerns, Industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has on September 29 (Tuesday) allaying fears of startup founders, called for a huddle to discuss the issue. “Just because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem of this country, they should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations which are contrary to our country’s laws,” IAMAI said.
Incidentally, Apple too charges 30% commission on its app Store for iOS-powered mobile devices.
Think Local, Go Global
Reports also suggest that besides taking recourse via industry bodies, a few technology entrepreneurs may be in talks to petition the government seeking support to create an overarching Indian digital app ecosystem.
The #IndiaKaAppStore on Twitter was among the top three trends on Wednesday (September 30).
At a meeting on Tuesday, the group discussed ways 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, as well as a national-level lobby group to represent their interests, people privy to discussions told ET.
Paytm founder & CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma had accused the tech giant of being the “judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one. It’s a ‘Google-nirbhar bharat not Atmanirbhar Bharat,”’ Shekhar had said.
Meanwhile, angel investor Mohandas Pai, had tweeted tagging PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, DPIIT and others, “Yes, we need an Indian App Store.”
Speaking to TechCrunch, Vishal Gondal, the founder of fitness startup GOQii, said that an alternative app store would immensely help the Indian app ecosystem.
Expressing his concern Vishwas Patel, Founder, CCAvenues and Chairman of Payments Council Of India, tweeted, “Just because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem of this country, they should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations which are contrary to our country’s laws,”
The sentiment was echoed by Arvind Gupta, Founder Member of iSPiRT, who called Google’s move as a digital monopoly.
Razorpay CEO and co-founder Harshil Mathur tweeted that India needs a local app store. “India needs a local app store long term else 30% tax will eat up most businesses, is anyone trying to build one?” he said.
Though Google’s new in-app payments policy takes effect starting January 2021, all existing apps on the Play Store get time till the end of September 2021 to implement Google’s billing system. Startups and internet companies are likely to spend the coming months planning. Meanwhile, Google will face increasing heat from policymakers, especially with the government raising the pitch for self reliance or Atmanirbhar Bharat push.