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    Startups accuse 'gatekeeper' Google of not playing fair

    Synopsis

    The startups say it's unfair exploitation of the Play Store's monopoly that stems from the dominance of Google's Android operating system.

    Google has control over many layers between customers and their service providers as more than 90% use Android phones, IAMAI said in a release.
    BENGALURU | MUMBAI: Indian startups are up in arms against the Google Play Store for forcing apps with in-app purchases to use its "expensive and unaffordable" billing system. Google levies a 30% commission against 1.5-2% levied by external gateways.

    While the policy has always been in place, it's only now being enforced in India. This will affect dating, education, video and music-on-demand, and other apps that rely on in-app purchases but not those for physical deliveries such as ecommerce.

    '30% is Tax, Not Commission'
    The startups say it's unfair exploitation of the Play Store's monopoly that stems from the dominance of Google's Android operating system. "It will badly affect us - 30% is tax, cannot be called commission!" said Snehil Khanor, CEO of TrulyMadly, a dating app. "They say we provide an ecosystem but we get the downloads through ads. For many small companies, it can be an existential threat."

    Google said developers can use websites to transact with consumers or opt for other app stores in the market.

    "Let me clarify. There are other ways in which they can go find the subscription," said Purnima Kochikar, director, business development, games and applications, Google India.

    startups-google
    "They have multiple store options... multiple ways to sell the subscription option. There are several Indian developers who have websites where they sell subscriptions. There are people who are using multi-platform ways where they're selling. All of that is possible." She said the policy will only impact 3% of the apps on the Play Store.

    Razorpay co-founder and CEO Harshil Mathur said the commission would make things tough.

    "A 30% commission on in-app payments is exorbitant and could kill so many businesses in India," he said. "While an Indian app store is a logical alternative, India requires a broader policy framework to find a more permanent resolution."

    Google has control over many layers between customers and their service providers as more than 90% use Android phones, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said in a release.

    "The Indian founders' community is on fire at the announcement of the policy. IAMAI is seeking a meeting with its founder members to understand their concerns and to resolve them," the lobby group said.

    Enforcement of the new policy is contrary to Indian laws, according to Vishwas Patel, chairman, Payments Council of India.

    "Just because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem... they should not reject Indian apps who are using RBI-recognised payment aggregators and payment gateways," he said. "Google should not use a dominant position, rather (it should) allow a level playing field for everyone in the ecosystem."

    With inputs from Surabhi Agarwal
    Register for ETRise Top MSMEs Ranking Digital Felicitation Ceremony. Visit www.etrise.com/topmsmes

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    6 Comments on this Story

    Prof Manohar Lal26 days ago
    Google and Playstore are 'App Sharks'. They dont allow other Third Party App hosters on their platform in the disguised name of security, and and make android users to download apps ONLY FROM PLAYSTORE as a default source. Policy Transparency and Fairness to the environment in which they make their living....have no place in their lexicon. Government or Courts can act only on reprsentation from multiple entities, and adjudicate based on principles enshrined in our constitution and show Google the place they deserve in a democratic country. We need to learn a lot from China on how to teach a lesson to rogue businesses operating in aoligopolistic environment globally to their unfair advantage and bullying powers
    Alan John26 days ago
    High time we have an app store for India, most probably Reliance will make one and levie less commission.
    Reciprocal Respect26 days ago
    :-) JNU types oblivious to public pasture & private garden boundary. Jai Ho printing press money privileges.
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