PhonePe Launches Zero-Fee App Store To Challenge Google In India


PhonePe, the fintech company backed by Walmart, has launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform in a bold move to challenge Google in India’s app market. The platform promises a zero platform fee and no commission on in-app purchases, positioning itself as an attractive alternative to Google’s Play Store.

Key Takeaway

PhonePe has launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform, offering zero platform fees and no commission on in-app purchases. This move challenges Google’s dominance in India’s app market and provides a localized alternative for developers.

India’s Largest Market

With over 450 million registered users on its payments app, PhonePe is keen to win over Android developers in what is Google’s largest market. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup has partnered with phonemakers for distribution, ensuring wide reach for the ‘made-in-India’ app store.

Features and Benefits

The Indus AppStore Developer Platform offers several locally relevant features, including support for third-party payment providers, 12 Indian languages, and a phone number-based login system. In a move to attract developers, PhonePe will not charge any listing fee for the first year, and only a nominal cost thereafter. Additionally, the fintech company will not levy a commission on in-app purchases, in stark contrast to Google’s 15-30% fee.

To address concerns raised by local developers about Google’s delayed responses and U.S. timezone operating hours, PhonePe has established an India-based team to offer dedicated support. The startup sees the app store as a crucial strategic move and has been working on it for years.

Rising Frustrations with Google

The launch of the Indus AppStore Developer Platform comes at a time when many Indian businesses and startups are growing increasingly frustrated with Google. While Google’s Android operating system dominates the Indian smartphone market, app developers have been limited to working with just one app store for distributing their apps.

PhonePe’s aim is to provide a credible alternative to the Google Play Store that is more localized, offering better app discovery and consumer engagement. This move follows other attempts by local entrepreneurs, as well as a push for regulatory intervention, to challenge Google’s dominance in the Indian app market.

Google’s Presence and Regulatory Challenges

India is a crucial overseas market for Google, where it has invested over $10 billion in the past decade. It reaches over 700 million internet users in the country. However, the tech giant has faced criticism and regulatory intervention, including antitrust fines, for its business practices that favor its own services.

PhonePe is optimistic that the Indian watchdog’s push for Google to accept third-party app stores and incorporate features that are pertinent to local needs will be successful. The fintech startup believes that Google’s compliance will lead to greater competition, improved industry insights, and enhanced consumer protection.

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