Indian app developers and startups are looking for an alternative to break Google’s monopoly with a localised Play Store.

Several app developers and entrepreneurs in India have come together to protest against Google’s Play Store billing policy and called for setting up an industry body. The members of the Indian start-up ecosystem are working on setting up a national body representing the interests of internet companies in India. This action is being taken to amplify the stand of Indian digital entrepreneurs against the app store policies of Google and Apple.

Indian app makers have started demanding a national app store alternative to Google Play, which has so far dominated the app ecosystem in the country. This call for an alternative started shortly after Google announced a 30 percent fee for the apps that are there on Google Play but are not using Google’s billing system. 

Paytm co-founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma is leading a team of app developers and entrepreneurs to bring an Indian alternative to Google Play. The team comprises of Yashish Dahiya of Policy Bazaar, Murugavel Janakiraman of, Vishwas Patel of CCAvenue, and founders of ShareChat and Innov8.

Fight against Google’s monopoly:

Google reaches more internet users than any other firm in India and commands 99 percent of India’s smartphone market. In most international markets, Apple and Google together form a duopoly when it comes to app distribution, but the situation is quite different in India. The Indian smartphone market majorly runs on android phones, and therefore solely relies on the Play Store giving Google a monopoly in the market.

Startup founders up for Indian app store:

A number of leading technology entrepreneurs are joining hands to petition the government in order to seek support to create an Indian digital app ecosystem to counter the dominance of US technology giants Google and Apple. 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.

Google on Monday reiterated its Play Store billing policy which entails a 30 percent fee on all in-app purchases, and all payments for in-app purchases will have to be routed through Google’s PlayStore billing platform. This new Google Play Store’s billing policies, where the app developers will be required to use Play’s built-in payment system to sell digital services from January 20, 2020 onwards. This angered the digital start-up community and made them join hands to come up with a local home-made app store in India.

More than 150 start-ups and firms in India are working to form an alliance and toying with the idea of launching an app store to cut their reliance on Google.

What enabled the move?

The sudden removal for the apps pushed the demand of building a local app store by the Indian entrepreneurs. Paytm was amongst the key Indian apps that were recently pulled from the Google Play. The app was removed on the basis that the app was not for offering cashbacks and vouchers.

Apart from Paytm, Google Play had also pulled various smaller Indian apps in the recent past. Swiggy and Zomato are also continuously receiving notices from Google for not complying with their Play Store policies. The practice of sending notices to app developers to comply with Google Play’s policies is in place for quite some time. However, Indian entrepreneurs now believe that an Indian alternative would help retain the user base in case of a ban from Google Play.

With the recent ban of around 224 Chinese apps by the Government of India, the Indian app developers saw a gargantuan sized market share available up them to grab the space that the Chinese predominantly enjoyed. Simultaneously, Indian influencers and gamers were too left in a lurch, forcing them to look at other options and therefore, they flocked to Indian built apps.

This move by the government allowed Indian app developers to show their creativity and encircle the Indian market with Indian products. Also, this move by the app developers and entrepreneurs in India is being considered as a great move in the process of creating an AtmaNirbhar Bharat.

Challenges in the process:

App developers believe that a local app store could help provide better regional requirements. Many experts say that building a successful alternative to Google Play isn’t that easy considering Google’s scale and user base in the country. It will be a difficult task to replicate the Google Play Store due to the stickiness factor attached to it.

Although there is a sudden growth in the demand for an alternative to Google Play, the market already has some alternatives. In fact, companies including Samsung, Vivo, and Xiaomi already have their native app stores alongside Google Play on their smartphones. But it is important for India to build a home-made Indian app store to meet the requirements of Indian users.