The call for self-reliance is growing in India’s startup ecosystem. The entire week, internet entrepreneurs have been lobbying on Twitter to press for an Indian App Store, one that could negate the Google-Apple duopoly. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) even called for a huddle to discuss these concerns and decide upon a future course of action. If sources are to be believed, the government has taken notice of these concerns and is moving to build such a platform where mobile applications could be listed.
On Thursday (October 1), ET NOW, citing sources, posted on Twitter that the Indian government was planning to create an indigenous App Store, as an alternative to Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
ET NOW’s tweet mentioned that the new App Store would be developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, an autonomous scientific society operating under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
Further, the tweet read that the government would consider making its homegrown App Store a mandatory pre-installed feature on all Android phones.
Last month, the Paytm app was pulled up by Google, with the latter claiming that some of the features on the app were violating the Play Store policies on gambling and real money gaming. On October 1, Inc42 reported that Google had also issued notices to food delivery startups Zomato and Swiggy, informing them that the gamification of certain features on their mobile applications was violative of the Play Store policies on gambling.
Since then, calls have grown among Indian startup founders about the negative effects stemming from the Google-Apple duopoly, with both companies running the biggest app stores and dictating rules and policies for the same.
In its policies, Google requires Play Store-listed applications that sell digital goods, to use Google Play’s billing system for in-app purchases. On every such purchase made by users on the app, Google will charge a 30% commission. The company recently informed that these policies would come into effect from January next year.
Founders of Indian startups have uniformly opposed Google’s 30% commission policy.
It is reported that the proposed ‘Made in India’ App Store wouldn’t charge any such commission for in-app purchases from app developers. The new App Store could be a refurbished version of the government’s existing Mobile Seva App Store, which hosts applications for Android, Windows, and iOS devices. The apps listed on the Mobile Seva App Store are those developed and operated by government agencies for the delivery of public services, such as Aarogya Setu.
Among the other current options for an Indian App Store, there’s App Bazaar, an app marketplace for users of Indus OS, India’s first indigenous smartphone operating system.
Tech Entrepreneurs Ask For Indian App Store
India’s internet entrepreneurs have been busy petitioning the government’s top functionaries on Twitter for an Indian App Store.
On September 29, Angel investor Mohandas Pai tweeted “Yes, we need an Indian App Store”.
On the same day, 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,”
Speaking to TechCrunch, Vishal Gondal, the founder of fitness startup GOQii, said that an alternative app store would immensely help the Indian app ecosystem.
The sentiment was echoed by Arvind Gupta, a founding member of Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable (iSPIRT), who termed Google’s move an example of digital monopoly.
Razorpay CEO and co-founder Harshil Mathur tweeted, “India needs a local app store long term else 30% tax will eat up most businesses, is anyone trying to build one?”