The ubiquitous (and by some accounts, pernicious) 30% toll Google charges for purchases made through Google Play is supposed to be more rigorously and universally applied when Android 12 drops next year. However, it seems that the process is going to be delayed in India.
According to a recent article from TechCrunch, a coalition of some 150 companies in India has formed to explore creating an alternative storefront with an alternative payment processing system. Due to the unexpected appearance and considerable size of the coalition, Google has announced they are delaying the mandatory toll in India until March 2022.
In the meantime, Purnima Kochikar, director of business development of games and applications at Google Play, has indicated Google will be setting up “listening sessions with leading Indian startups to understand their concerns more deeply.” In a statement, Kochikar said, “We will be setting up Policy Workshops to help clear any additional questions about our Play Store policies. And we’re also extending the time for developers in India to integrate with the Play billing system, to ensure they have enough time to implement the UPI for subscription payment option that will be made available on Google Play — for all apps that currently use an alternative payment system we set a timeline of 31st March 2022. We have always said developers should have a choice in how they distribute their apps, and that stores should compete for consumers’ and developers’ business.”
Food For Thought
At present, Google has a classic monopoly on smartphone use in India, owning 99% of the smartphone market. However, some of the companies heading up this particular challenge have significant personal ties to the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Moreover, the “competition” offered by some of these companies, such as Jio Platforms, looks to be closer to Apple’s model of a walled garden than the open source ideal of Android. There’s likely going to be interesting stories coming out of these “policy workshops” Google is promising.