Indian app developers dispute Google fee system

Indian app developers dispute Google fee system

Following last week’s news that India may be planning to launch its own app store as an alternative to the market-dominating Apple and Google offerings, a spat has been reported between Google and a number of Indian start-up app developers.

According to Reuters, the start-ups have made clear their displeasure at Google’s billing system for app companies – it charges a 30 percent commission fee for in-app purchases.

Google has now extended its deadline for Indian app developers to comply with a new billing system for commission fees by six months; the new deadline is 31 March 2022. The original deadline for compliance had been 30 September next year but a number of Indian start-ups were said to be considering challenging this in the courts.

The starting point for this angry response may have been Google’s decision to take down – albeit briefly – India’s top digital payments app Paytm for violation of certain Play Store policies last month. This was allegedly not well received by a number of entrepreneurs. One argument has been that the dominance of its Android mobile operating system in India allows Google to exert excessive control over the types of apps and other services they can offer, an allegation the company denies.

It is true that Android is present in nearly all the country’s mobile phones. However, as proof that it is giving something back to India, Google could point to the fact that it has supported many local app providers over the years and recently announced $10 billion in new investments over five to seven years.

The 30 percent fee currently being debated covers the security and marketing benefits the app store provides, according to both Google and Apple, which charges a similar amount.

However, Google is not alone in being challenged over its charging system. Apple has recently been involved in a very complicated dispute with game and sotfware developer Epic Games, relating to Epic’s alleged attempt to bypass app store charges.

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