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March 3, 2024

Google Reinstates Indian Apps After Billing Fee Violations; IT Minister to Chair Meeting for Resolution

Google has reinstated several Indian apps on its Play Store after they complied with the tech giant’s payment policies, following a recent wave of removals over billing fee violations. However, some apps remain unavailable, highlighting the critical importance of being listed on the Play Store for many developers in India, given Android’s dominant market share.

In response to Google’s actions, the Indian government intervened, urging the company to reconsider its stance. IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced plans to chair a meeting with Google and start-ups to address the issue comprehensively. The move comes amid concerns over the impact on the Indian app ecosystem, particularly for developers whose livelihoods depend on the Play Store platform.

Sanjiv Bikhchandani, founder of InfoEdge, expressed relief as several of the company’s apps, including Naukri and 99Acres, were reinstated on the Play Store. However, Anupam Mittal, founder of the People Group operating Shaadi.com, noted that their apps were restored only after removing in-app payment options to comply with Google’s policies. This move, while reinstating the apps, raises concerns about functionality and revenue generation.

Vinay Singhal, CEO of Stage, echoed similar sentiments, highlighting challenges with Google’s billing system that adversely affect conversion rates. Developers often face significant hurdles with Google’s payment options, impacting user experience and revenue potential. Singhal emphasized the need for Google to improve its services to justify the commission charged on in-app payments.

Apps on Google Play have varying payment options, including Google’s billing system, alternate payment methods with slightly lower commissions, and external redirection for payments. While the latter exempts developers from paying commissions, it often results in user drop-offs due to additional steps in the payment process.

Google’s decision to remove apps underscores the ongoing tension between the tech giant and Indian developers over commission fees. Despite legal rulings upholding Google’s right to charge fees, developers argue for fairer practices and improved service quality.

The reinstatement of some apps offers a glimmer of hope, but challenges persist as developers navigate Google’s policies and seek viable payment solutions. The upcoming meeting chaired by the IT Minister signifies a crucial step towards fostering dialogue and finding a resolution beneficial to both parties involved.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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