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Google Faces Backlash in India as Minister Condemns Removal of Apps from Play Store Amidst Payment Dispute

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Google Faces Backlash in India as Minister Condemns Removal of Apps from Play Store Amidst Payment Dispute
Google Faces Backlash in India as Minister Condemns Removal of Apps from Play Store Amidst Payment Dispute

Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw criticized Google’s recent removal of several Indian apps from the Play Store, stating that such actions “cannot be permitted.” The decision by Google, which included popular apps like Bharat Matrimony and Naukri, was attributed to alleged non-compliance with the tech giant’s in-app payment guidelines.

Expressing concern for the affected startups, Vaishnaw confirmed discussions with Google and announced plans to meet with these businesses to ensure their protection in India. He emphasized that the delisting of apps is unacceptable. Despite requests for comment, Google chose not to respond.

This move by Google has drawn backlash from numerous startups that have long contested the company’s practices, particularly its in-app fees. Google argues that these fees contribute to the development and promotion of the Android and Play Store ecosystem.

The root of the dispute lies in the resistance of some Indian startups against Google’s imposition of fees ranging from 11 to 26 percent on in-app payments. This follows an order by the country’s antitrust authorities, instructing Google not to enforce the earlier system of charging 15 to 30 percent. Two court decisions in January and February seemingly gave Google the authority to either impose the fee or remove non-compliant apps.

Matrimony.com is among the most severely affected, witnessing over 150 of its apps being removed from the Play Store. Founder Murugavel Janakiraman expressed concerns about the potential long-term impact on revenue if the situation persists.

Info Edge, another affected company, had its job search app Naukri and a real estate search app removed. The founder mentioned that some of the apps had been restored but did not provide further details.

This is not the first time Google has taken such action; in 2020, the popular Indian payments app Paytm was briefly removed from the Play Store for policy violations. This incident prompted the founder and the wider startup industry to unite, challenging Google by launching their own app stores and filing legal cases.

 

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