Developing, a desi rival for Google’s Play Store

Business Line, October 02, 2020

Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm, Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip, Vishal Gondal of Goqii, and founders of other start-ups including PolicyBazaar and Sharechat, ae brainstorming on the possibility of creating a new platform to rival Google’s Play Store.

“The thinking is the need for an Indian app store to ensure that a viable alternative platform to Google’s,” said one of the executives who is involved in the emerging alliance.

But when contacted, the companies declined to comment.

The idea of a new app store has gathered momentum after the spate of recent changes announced by Google that have not gone down well with Indian app companies. A few days back, Google announced that firom next October, it will take a 30 per cent fee from every transaction being done within an app on its Play Store.

“Reinforcing the fee of 30 per cent makes Google a gatekeeper without adequate transparency and accountability, adding on the cost of using the platform and reduces the much needed flexibility for app developers,” said Udai S Mehta, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International, a think tank.

Google has also been drawing flak for evicting Paytm from the Play Store earlier in September for allegedly violating its rules.

Indian founders now also have an opportunity to deploy a competing app marketplace with more democratised policies, said Anupam Shukla, Counsel, Pioneer Legal.

TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Aarin Capital Partners, strongly believes that India should have its own app store and have regulations that will force digital monopolies to first issue a notice, have a cure period and only then act, instead of removing them directly.

Indian start-ups can afford to develop an independent platform because of the size of the potential market

“It is a bit like China where an entire alternative to Western internet ecosystem has developed,” said Santosh Pai, Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies.

However, Sharad Sharma, Co-Founder, iSpirit, is of the view that in technology, there is a need to understand standards or protocols, which need to be thought through for creating an ecosystem.

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