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Google reinstates Indian apps after compliance with payment policies



A day after Google removed a slew of apps of Indian developers including the likes of Naukri, Shaadi, and 99Acres from its Play Store for what it called were violations of its payments terms, the company reinstated a number of them after they complied with their policies.

Some apps remained unavailable on Google Play at the time of publication. Being on the store is a make or break situation for many developers given that Android has a market share of more than 90 per cent in India.

Following Google’s strict action on Friday, the government had also reached out to the company asking it to reverse course. “I spoke to Google yesterday (Friday) after their action and have asked them not to delist apps like this, and they have started allowing some apps back. On Monday I will have a meeting with Google and the start-ups on this topic,” IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told The Indian Express.

Sanjiv Bikhchandani of InfoEdge, which operates the Naukri and 99Acres apps, said on social media platform X that many of the company’s apps were back on Google Play.

However, Anupam Mittal, founder of the People Group which operates the app which was removed by Google said that the apps had been reinstated by Google only after they removed all modes of in-app payments to comply with Google’s policies. “Apps are back without billing which is as good as not being there,” he said on X.

Vinay Singhal, co-founder and CEO of content streaming app Stage which had also been impacted by Google’s action on Friday told The Indian Express that they have also updated their app and removed the billing system altogether. But they were yet to be on-boarded to Google Play unlike some of the other ones which were live.

“It is not like developers don’t want to pay Google a commission. The problem is that when we use their system our conversion rate goes down by 50-90 per cent because of the glitches in the way they implement the billing system. They first need to provide a better service,” Singhal told this paper.

Apps on Google Play have three options to accept payments for digital services and goods — Google’s own billing system, an alternate payments method where the commission charged by Google is slightly lower, and a consumption mode where developers redirect users to an external website to accept payments and in which case Google does not receive any commission. This paper could confirm that was redirecting users looking to buy a subscription from within the app to its external website. Developers feel that while they don’t have to pay Google a cut in the consumption model, there is a significant drop off when users see that they have to go to another website to complete the payment.

Google’s decision to remove the apps marked a major escalation in the souring relationship between the Internet giant and some Indian app developers, who have opposed its policy of charging 11-26 per cent commission on in-app payments. But decisions by the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court earlier this year effectively gave Google the green light to charge the fee or remove the apps.

“…for an extended period of time, 10 companies, including many well-established ones, have chosen to not pay for the immense value they receive on Google Play by securing interim protections from court. These developers comply with payment policies of other app stores,” Google had said in a blog post on Friday, hours before it started removing the applications.

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