PhonePe, the Walmart-backed fintech company, has recently launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform in an attempt to challenge Google’s dominance in India’s app market. With over 450 million registered users on its payments app, PhonePe aims to attract Android developers with its promise of zero platform fees and no commission on in-app purchases. The app store, which has also partnered with phonemakers for distribution, offers a range of locally relevant features, including support for third-party payment providers, multiple Indian languages, and a phone number-based login system.
Overview of PhonePe’s App Store
PhonePe’s launch of the Indus AppStore Developer Platform
PhonePe has officially launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform, providing a new marketplace for Android developers in India. The platform offers an alternative to Google’s Play Store, which has been the sole distribution channel for app developers in the country.
Promise of zero platform fee and no commission on in-app purchases
In a bid to attract developers, PhonePe is waiving platform fees for the first year and imposing only nominal fees thereafter. Additionally, there will be no commission charged on in-app purchases, unlike Google’s 15-30% rate.
Opportunity for Android developers in Google’s largest market
India is one of Google’s largest markets, with over 95% of all smartphones running on the Android operating system. By providing a credible alternative, PhonePe’s app store opens up new opportunities for Android developers to reach a wider audience and distribute their apps.
Partnerships with phonemakers for app distribution
PhonePe has secured partnerships with phonemakers to ensure app distribution on their devices. This collaboration will enable developers to have their apps pre-installed or easily accessible on smartphones, increasing their visibility and reach.
Features of the app store
The app store offers various features aimed at enhancing user experience and app discovery. These include support for multiple Indian languages, third-party payment providers, and a login system based on phone numbers. This localization and customization make the app store more appealing to Indian users.
Benefits for Developers
No listing fees for the first year
To encourage developers to join the Indus AppStore Developer Platform, PhonePe is waiving listing fees for the first year. This eliminates an upfront cost and makes it more accessible for developers to showcase their apps on the platform.
Nominal cost for listing fees after the first year
After the initial year, PhonePe will introduce a nominal cost for listing fees. This ensures a sustainable revenue model for the app store while still keeping the fees affordable for developers.
No commission on in-app purchases
One of the significant advantages of PhonePe’s app store is the absence of any commission on in-app purchases. This allows developers to retain a higher percentage of their revenue compared to Google’s Play Store.
Addressing Developer Concerns
PhonePe’s India-based team to offer developer support
Recognizing the frustrations of local developers with Google’s delayed responses and U.S. timezone operating hours, PhonePe has established an India-based team to provide prompt and localized developer support. This ensures that developers receive timely assistance and guidance throughout their journey on the app store.
Tackling concerns over Google’s delayed responses and U.S. timezone operating hours
Many Indian developers have experienced challenges in obtaining timely responses from Google due to the time zone difference. PhonePe’s app store aims to address this issue by offering support during local business hours, eliminating the need for developers to adjust their schedules to align with international operations.
Background on PhonePe’s App Store
Years of work on the app store
PhonePe’s app store has been in development for several years, indicating the company’s commitment to providing a robust platform for developers. This investment in time and resources demonstrates the strategic importance PhonePe places on establishing itself as a significant player in the app market.
Strategic importance for PhonePe
The launch of the app store is a crucial strategic move for PhonePe as it expands its offerings beyond its flagship payments app. By diversifying into the app market, PhonePe aims to strengthen its position in the fintech industry and provide a comprehensive ecosystem for its users.
Acquisition of IndusOS and legal battles
PhonePe’s journey towards launching the app store involved the acquisition of IndusOS, a homegrown operating system that powers many Indian smartphones. This acquisition was followed by legal battles to complete the startup acquisition, highlighting the challenges and complexities involved in establishing a new app platform.
Frustration with Google
PhonePe’s decision to challenge Google’s dominance in India’s app market is fueled by frustrations shared by many Indian businesses and startups. The exorbitant fees levied by Google’s Play Store and the lack of alternatives have prompted local entrepreneurs to explore alternative platforms and voice their concerns.
Challenges for App Developers in India
Lack of alternatives to Google Play Store
Google’s Play Store has been the primary distribution channel for app developers in India, leaving them with limited alternatives. This lack of competition has resulted in few options for developers to explore and forced them to accept Google’s terms and fees.
Apple’s limited market share in India
While Apple is gradually expanding its presence in India, its market share remains comparatively low. This limits the reach of iOS apps and leaves Android as the dominant platform for app development and distribution in the country.
Indus Appstore Developer Platform as an Alternative
Providing app developers with a credible alternative
The launch of the Indus Appstore Developer Platform by PhonePe aims to provide app developers with a credible alternative to Google’s Play Store. By offering a localized platform with better app discovery and consumer engagement, PhonePe seeks to attract developers and provide them with a viable option for distributing their apps.
Localization and better app discovery
One of the key advantages of the Indus Appstore Developer Platform is its focus on localization. With support for multiple Indian languages and tailored features for the local market, developers can create apps that cater specifically to Indian users. This localization promotes better app discovery and enhances user engagement.
Importance of consumer engagement
PhonePe recognizes the significance of consumer engagement in driving the success of app developers. By providing a platform with features that encourage user interaction and retention, the Indus Appstore Developer Platform aims to foster a thriving ecosystem where developers can build a loyal user base.
Other Attempts to Challenge Google Play Store
Previous calls for intervention from Indian businesses
Prior to PhonePe’s entry into the app market, several Indian businesses had voiced their concerns about Google’s Play Store fees. These businesses urged the Indian government to intervene and promote fair competition by allowing alternative app stores and features that cater to local needs.
Paytm-led mini app store alliance
Among the efforts to challenge Google’s Play Store dominance, a notable initiative was the Paytm-led mini app store alliance. Paytm, a major player in the Indian fintech industry, sought to rally other businesses to collectively create a mini app store ecosystem that offered more favorable terms for developers.
Regulatory Challenges and Google’s Compliance
Antitrust fines and regulatory intervention in India
Google has faced regulatory challenges in India, resulting in antitrust fines and pressure to modify its business agreements. These interventions aim to promote a more competitive app market, where developers have more options and are not subjected to monopolistic practices.
Changes to business agreements with partners
As a response to the regulatory pressure, Google has made changes to its business agreements with phonemakers and other partners. These changes aim to address concerns over device costs, security threats, and the need for greater transparency and fairness in the app market.
Google’s concerns about device costs and security threats
Google has raised concerns that allowing third-party app stores and features could lead to increased device costs and security threats. The company argues that maintaining strict control over the app ecosystem ensures user safety and prevents the proliferation of unchecked apps that could pose risks to individuals and national security.
Expansion of PhonePe into New Categories
Launch of an e-commerce app
In addition to the app store, PhonePe has recently launched an e-commerce app. This expansion into the e-commerce space allows PhonePe to offer a broader range of services to its users, creating a more comprehensive ecosystem that encompasses payments, apps, and online shopping.
Introduction of Share.Market app for trading and investing
PhonePe has also introduced the Share.Market app, which enables users to open trading accounts and invest in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. This foray into the finance and investment sector demonstrates PhonePe’s ambition to diversify its offerings and cater to the evolving needs of its users.
In conclusion, PhonePe’s launch of a zero-fee app store presents a significant challenge to Google’s dominance in India’s app market. By offering a credible alternative with localization features and better app discovery, PhonePe aims to attract Android developers and provide them with a more favorable platform for app distribution. With the backing of phonemakers and a strong focus on developer support, PhonePe’s app store has the potential to disrupt the status quo and offer a more competitive app ecosystem in India.