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Dark Day of the Internet: Many Indian Apps Removed by Google Playstore

Unpacking the Big Play Store Shake-Up: How India's Tech Titans are Turning a Setback into a Digital Revolution. Dive into the details!

Dark Day of the Internet: Many Indian Apps Removed by Google Playstore

Monday March 04, 2024 , 4 min Read

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, the "Dark Day of Internet" has sent ripples through the Indian tech ecosystem, following Google Play Store's recent decision to delist a significant number of Indian apps. This unprecedented move has sparked a flurry of debates and discussions about its impact on startups, market competition, and the broader implications for India's digital autonomy. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of this event, shedding light on the affected apps and companies, the reasons behind their delisting, and the broader ramifications for the Indian tech industry.

Apps on the Chopping Block

The apps caught in the crossfire belonged to various sectors, including:

  • Matrimonial services (Shaadi.com, Bharat Matrimony)
  • Recruitment platforms (Naukri.com)
  • Audio storytelling (KukuFM)
  • Video streaming (ALT Balaji)

These delistings were a significant blow, not just for brand visibility but also for potential revenue streams. With a large portion of the Indian smartphone market reliant on the Play Store, losing access translates to a significant user base – a major concern for any app-driven business.

The Culprit: Google Play Billing System (GPBS)

At the heart of the delisting issue is the Google Play Billing System (GPBS), a policy that mandates the use of Google's billing system for in-app purchases. This policy has been a bone of contention between Google and app developers, who argue that it imposes excessive fees and undermines their revenue models. The enforcement of GPBS has been cited as a primary reason for the recent delisting, as apps failing to comply with this policy were removed from the Play Store.

Anti-Competitive or Necessary Enforcement?

The delisting has raised questions about whether Google's actions are anti-competitive, stifling innovation and limiting the market opportunities for emerging startups. Critics argue that such policies create an uneven playing field, favoring established players over newcomers. In response, Google has defended its policies as necessary for maintaining a safe and trustworthy marketplace for consumers, emphasising that the policies are applied uniformly across all apps, regardless of their origin.

Aftermath: A Digital Tug-of-War

The outcome of the delisting has been a wake-up call for the Indian tech industry, prompting discussions about digital sovereignty and the need for alternative platforms. The situation underscores the vulnerability of relying heavily on global tech giants for app distribution and the importance of diversifying distribution channels.

Google's Comprehensive Policies and Their Impact on Startups

Google's comprehensive policies, while designed to ensure a secure ecosystem, can pose significant challenges for startups. These policies often require substantial resources to comply with, which can be daunting for early-stage companies. The recent delisting serves as a reminder of the critical need for startups to understand and navigate these policies effectively to thrive in the digital marketplace. The episode highlighted the over-reliance on a single app store and the potential vulnerability it creates.

Is It Time for an Indian App Store?

The current scenario has reignited the conversation about India developing its own app store, akin to its initiatives like UPI and ONDC, to foster greater digital autonomy. An indigenous app store could offer a more level playing field for Indian startups, reducing dependency on foreign platforms and potentially spurring innovation within the country.

The "Dark Day of the Internet" marks a critical juncture for the Indian tech ecosystem, highlighting the challenges and opportunities in the digital age. As the industry grapples with these developments, the path forward involves a collaborative effort between companies, policymakers, and stakeholders to create a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape. Embracing innovation, fostering local platforms, and advocating for fair policies will be key to ensuring the vibrant growth of India's digital economy.

In navigating these turbulent waters, the Indian tech community must band together, leveraging this moment not as a setback but as a stepping stone towards a more self-reliant and innovative future. The saga serves as a poignant reminder of the tech world's ever-present mantra: adapt, innovate, and overcome. Only time can tell whether it will be an App-ocalypse or a new dawn.


Edited by Rahul Bansal