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PhonePe Takes on Google Play with Indus Appstore

While the app store will be free for a year, PhonePe has not finalized a pricing structure for the subsequent year, though the fintech indicated that it will be in the "low single digits" in addition to the basic fee

PhonePe Takes on Google Play with Indus Appstore

Mahima Sinha

POSTED ON February 22, 2024 7:50 PM

In a move to take on Google and Apple’s duopoly in the app marketplace, Walmart-backed PhonePe introduced Indus Appstore on Wednesday. The indigenous Android app store was launched by Ashwini Vaishnav, Union Minister of Railways, Communications, and Electronics & IT who stated that the launch of the “Made in India” app is a historic milestone for India. He added that was a testament to the country’s commitment to fostering innovation and supporting India’s developers and creators.

India’s G20 Sherpa and former NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who was present at the launch, claimed the app to be a game-changer for Indian apps. He stated that it will empower Indian app creators with the resources they require to compete globally. 

The launch comes approximately four months after the digital payments company expanded its app marketplace to Android developers, encouraging them to release their apps on the platform. While PhonePe said that it will be free for a year, it has not finalized a pricing structure for the subsequent year, though it indicated that it will be in the "low single digits" in addition to the basic fee. 

Responding to a query by Outlook Start-Up, Sameer Nigam, co-founder and chief executive of PhonePe, stated that a major benefit that developers will have on the Indus Appstore is the flexibility to utilize any payment platform without facing commission fees for in-app purchases. In contrast, Google Play Store mandates developers to utilize its billing system for in-app purchases, subjecting them to a 15%-30% fee imposed by the app marketplace. 

He added that the platform aims to set itself apart by offering robust support for 12 regional languages, adopting a video-centric approach to app discovery, and implementing mobile number verification for login instead of email. 

Indus Appstore will feature "smart updates," utilizing data optimization methods to seamlessly update apps in the background, potentially enhancing the adoption of new versions. Additionally, users will receive suggestions on which apps to deactivate or uninstall to efficiently manage their device's storage.

Sameer also focused on how the launch of the app store arrives amidst increasing demands within the Indian start-up ecosystem for greater competition in the gaming sector. Until last year, platforms like Dream11 faced restrictions on the Play Store, reflecting the evolving landscape of app market regulation. The app store also plans to offer heavy games that are not offered by Play Store.

Through the Indus Appstore, Indian consumers will now have access to over 2,00,000 mobile apps and games spanning across 45 categories, which it hopes to ramp up to 5 lakh by 2024-end. The company is also in talks with major domestic and international gaming companies to list their games on the app.

Numerous Indian consumer-focused companies such as Zomato, Myntra, Amazon, Paytm, Domino’s Pizza, Flipkart, Dream11, Swiggy, and Kotak Mahindra Bank already have their apps on the Indus Appstore. Sameer shared that the company aims to onboard 500,000 apps by the end of 2024 across all sectors.

In September 2020, Google temporarily removed the app of Indian fintech giant Paytm from the Play Store, asserting a violation of platform rules. The cause was Paytm's promotion of the fantasy sports app, Paytm First, which also faced delisting due to its association with sports betting—breaching Google's regulations on such apps in India.

Following this incident, a group of Indian startups, led by executives like Vijay Shekhar Sharma from Paytm, Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip, and representatives from PolicyBazaar, RazorPay, and ShareChat, formed a coalition to explore the possibility of an alternative app store. The initiative emerged as a response to longstanding concerns among startup leaders regarding the Play Store's 30% fee, fostering a collective push for the creation of a ‘Made in India’ app store.

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