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PhonePe launches a free app store to compete with Google

by OnverZe
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The Walmart-backed fintech PhonePe unveiled the Indus AppStore Developer Platform on Saturday in an effort to attract Android developers in Google’s biggest market. It promised no platform charge and no commission on in-app sales.

The firm with its Bengaluru headquarters, which boasts over 450 million users registered on its self-titled payments app, said that developers may begin registering and uploading their applications on the “made-in-India” app store as of right now. The app store offers a slew of regionally relevant features, including support for third-party payment providers, 12 Indian languages, and a login method based on phone numbers. PhonePe has also worked with phonemakers for distribution.

PhonePe launches a free app store to compete with Google

According to PhonePe, there would be no listing fee for developers for the first year but a “nominal” price after that. In addition, the business would not charge a commission on in-app purchases, in contrast to Google’s takerate of 15% to 30%. In response to complaints from Indian developers who were unsatisfied with Google’s slow replies and U.S. timezone operation hours, PhonePe, which dominates the UPI-based payments industry in India, announced it has established an India-based team to provide assistance to developers.

The debut of PhonePe’s app store is scheduled for April, According to those familiar with the situation, PhonePe has been working on the app store for years and internally views it as a critical strategic step. PhonePe recently funded $850 million, purchased IndusOS in 2021, and then waged a legal struggle to finalise the company acquisition.

The debut of the Indus Appstore Developer Platform coincides with a growing dissatisfaction among Indian businesses and startups with Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers more than 95% of all smartphones in the nation.

However, despite the scale of the industry, Indian app developers have always been compelled to collaborate with just one app store for the purpose of selling their products, according to a statement from Akash Dongre, co-founder and chief product officer of Indus Appstore. (Although Apple is boosting its footprint there, the company still has a small market share there.)

“Indus Appstore hopes to provide app developers with a credible alternative to the Google Playstore — one that is more localised and offers better app discovery and consumer engagement,” the executive continued.

The struggle against what local business owners claim are excessive fees charged by the Google Play Store has been waged before by others besides PhonePe. In recent years, several Indian companies have pleaded with New Delhi for help, and some have staked their future on an arrangement between Paytm and a small app store.

The Walmart-backed startup, which was formerly a part of Flipkart, is hopeful that the Indian watchdog’s campaign to persuade Google to accept third-party app stores and features relevant to local requirements, like real-time analytics, in-depth industry trend insights, and competitor evaluations, will be more successful than previous attempts.

In the last ten years, Google has invested over $10 billion in India, one of its most important international markets, in an effort to locate the next big growth markets outside of the United States. In South Asia, Google has over 700 million internet users, yet the company is increasingly under fire and subject to government regulation.

The corporation was compelled to make a number of modifications to its contracts with phonemakers and other partners after receiving two antitrust fines in India a year ago. The announcement of Google’s compliance comes weeks after the company issued a warning that modifications to its terms of service will increase the cost of handsets in the second-largest smartphone market in the world and encourage the development of unvetted apps that pose risks to personal and governmental security.

The launch of the app store is PhonePe’s most recent effort as it diversifies into a number of different sectors. The $12 billion firm debuted an e-commerce app this year and Share.Market, an app that enables users to establish trading accounts and trade in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs, last month.

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