Google faces government backlash over removal of Indian apps from Play Store; parties called for meeting

PoliCharcha | Updated: March 02, 2024, 12:19 PM

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Google faces government backlash over removal of Indian apps from Play Store; parties called for meeting

The government has taken a firm stance against Google's recent removal of certain apps from its Play Store, stating that the delisting of Indian apps is unacceptable.

IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw conveyed this sentiment in an interview with PTI, and talked about the pivotal role of the startup ecosystem in the Indian economy, asserting that their fate cannot be subject to the decisions of major tech companies.

Vaishnaw's remarks come in the wake of Google's action on Friday to remove several apps, including popular matrimony apps, from its Play Store in India amidst a dispute over service fee payments. This move sparked outcry from affected apps and prominent startup founders.

Expressing grave concern over the issue, Vaishnaw stated, "India is very clear, our policy is very clear...our startups will get the protection that they need." The government is poised to address the matter directly by convening meetings with Google and the affected app developers in the coming week to seek resolution.

"I have already called Google...I have already called the app developers who have been delisted, we will be meeting them next week. This cannot be permitted… This kind of delisting cannot be permitted," affirmed Vaishnaw.

Stating India's remarkable achievement in nurturing a robust startup ecosystem, with over one lakh startups and more than 100 unicorns emerging within a decade, the minister stressed the imperative to harness the energy of youth and entrepreneurs fully. He underscored that such critical matters cannot be left at the mercy of big tech policies.

"I will be telling Google...Our entrepreneurial energy...startups, look at the whole startup India programme, 10 years back we had practically nothing and today we have more than 1,00,000 startups, more than 100 unicorns...this is something...the energy of our youth, the energy of our entrepreneurs, energy of our talented people that has to be channelised fully well, it cannot be left to the policies of any big tech," Vaishnaw said.

Google announced on Friday that it had taken action against ten companies in India, including several well-established ones, for evading fees despite benefiting from the platform and Play Store. Consequently, the tech giant proceeded to delist several apps from its platform.

While Google did not disclose the names of the companies involved, searches on the Play Store from Android phones failed to yield results for matrimonial apps such as Shaadi,, and Bharat Matrimony. Additionally, Balaji Telefilms' Altt (formerly ALTBalaji), audio platform Kuku FM, dating service Quack Quack, and Truly Madly also vanished from the Play Store.

The contentious issue stems from Google's imposition of a fee ranging from 11 to 26 percent on in-app payments, following an order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to scrap the previous system, which charged between 15 to 30 percent.

Google proceeded with the removal of apps that failed to pay the fee after the Supreme Court declined to grant interim relief to the companies behind these apps in their legal battle against the tech giant's app marketplace fee.

Reacting to the development, Bharat Matrimony founder Murugavel Janakiraman characterised the move as a "dark day" for the internet in India, while Kuku FM Co-founder Vinod Kumar Meena criticised Google's actions, likening them to those of a "monopoly." Quack Quack Founder Ravi Mittal expressed the company's intention to comply with the rules to regain access to the marketplace.

Previously, Google had issued notices of Play Store violations to, the operator of BharatMatrimony, and Info Edge, which operates a similar app called Jeevansathi.

In a related development, Info Edge (India) Ltd disclosed on Saturday that its mobile apps, including,, and, had been removed from the Google Play Store.

"Indian companies will comply - for now. But what India needs is an App Store/ Play Store that is a part of Digital Public Infrastructure - like UPI and ONDC. The response needs to be strategic," Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani had said in a post on Friday on X (formerly Twitter) tagging Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his office.

IAMAI - an industry association that represents some of the largest Indian startups as well as international firms - condemned the removal of apps and had urged Google to reinstate delisted apps.

In its blogpost, Google had said 10 Indian companies had chosen for an extended period of time not to pay for the "immense value they receive on Google Play".

"For years, no court or regulator has denied Google Play's right to charge," it said, adding that the Supreme Court on February 9 also "refused to interfere" with its right to do so.

Google asserted that allowing a small group of developers to get differential treatment from the vast majority of developers who are paying their fair share creates an uneven playing field putting all other apps and games at a competitive disadvantage.

"After giving these developers more than three years to prepare, including three weeks after the Supreme Court's order, we are taking necessary steps to ensure our policies are applied consistently across the ecosystem, as we do for any form of policy violation globally," Google said.

In the blogpost, Google had said that enforcement of the policy, when necessary, can include removal of non-compliant apps from Google Play. Google, however, added that existing users will be able to continue to access the apps without interruption and that it continues "to offer our support to help developers get into compliance."

Developers, it said, are welcome to resubmit their apps to be listed on Play by selecting one of the three billing options as part of its payment policy.

"Today, we have over 2,00,000 Indian developers using Google Play who adhere to our policies, helping us ensure we have a safe platform; however, 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 the court," Google had said.