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Google Facing Heat in India Over Removal of Play Store Apps

Information Technology minister said the move on Friday, which follows a long dispute over the group’s service fee charges, ‘cannot be permitted’

Google said on Friday that some Indian companies had chosen not to pay for the "immense value they receive on Google Play" (Reuters image).


Google’s removal of a large number of apps from its Play Store in India has angered the country’s Information Technology minister, who vowed to contest the move, which follows a long dispute over the group’s service fee charges.

IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday the removal of so many popular apps “cannot be permitted”.

Among the apps that Google removed from its Play Store on Friday were Matrimony.com’s popular Bharat Matrimony and job search app Naukri, after saying the companies were not abiding by its in-app payment guidelines.


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Indian IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw speaks at SemiconIndia 2023 in July 2023 (Reuters).

Vaishnaw said he has held talks with Google and will meet the startups, which needed protection in India.

“This cannot be permitted. This kind of de-listing cannot be permitted,” he said in a statement.

Google declined to comment.

The removal has sparked criticism from many startups who have for years protested and legally challenged many of the US giant’s practices, including its in-app fee.

Google says the fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store ecosystem.

The dispute centres on efforts by some Indian startups to stop Google from imposing a fee of 11%-26% on in-app payments, after the country’s antitrust authorities ordered it to not mandatorily enforce an earlier system of charging 15%-30%.


Court decisions

But Google effectively received the go-ahead to charge the fee or remove apps after two court decisions in January and February, one by the Supreme Court.

Google said on Friday that some Indian companies had chosen not to pay for the “immense value they receive on Google Play”.

Among the worst hit by the removals is Matrimony.com which has seen more than 150 of its apps dropped from the Play Store.

“All our apps have been removed and we are out of Play Store and (that) means out of business,” founder Murugavel Janakiraman said on Saturday. “If this continuous for a long term then we will have significant drop in revenue.”

Info Edge, another affected company, had seen its job search app Naukri and another real estate search app, removed. Many of the company’s apps had been restored, its founder said on Saturday on X, without elaborating.

Google briefly removed popular Indian payments app Paytm from its Play Store in 2020 citing some policy violations. The move led to the company’s founder and the wider startup industry joining together to challenge Google by launching their own app stores and filing legal cases.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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