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Indian Startup Alliance Urges Antitrust Watchdog to Reprimand Google

 |  March 4, 2024

In a dramatic escalation of tensions between Indian startups and tech giant Alphabet Google, a group representing Indian startups has formally petitioned the country’s antitrust watchdog to intervene in the recent removal of over 100 Indian apps from the Google Play Store. The move comes as a response to Google’s enforcement of its policy requiring apps to pay a service fee for in-app purchases made through platforms other than Google’s.

According to a letter seen by Reuters, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) has urged the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to order Google to reinstate the removed apps, citing concerns of anti-competitive behavior. Google’s action, described by ADIF as a “brazen move,” has sparked fears of irreparable damage to the Indian market.

The dispute stems from Google’s decision on Friday to remove a slew of Indian apps, including popular ones offered by Matrimony.com, for non-compliance with its policy on in-app payments. This move has drawn the ire of Indian startups, which have long accused Google of monopolistic practices. The startups argue that Google’s policy violates a 2022 antitrust directive aimed at preventing the tech giant from taking punitive measures against companies that utilize alternate billing systems.

Read more: Google Accuses India’s Competition Commission of Protecting Amazon

In its letter to the CCI dated March 1, ADIF asserted that Google’s actions were not only anti-competitive but also detrimental to the entire market. The letter, though not public, emphasized the urgency of the situation and called for swift action to address what it perceives as an unjustifiable assault on the Indian app ecosystem.

Google, for its part, has staunchly defended its policies, arguing that its in-app fee is crucial for the development and promotion of the Android and Play Store ecosystem. The company insists that it is in compliance with relevant regulations and denies any wrongdoing.

The removal of Indian apps by Google has reignited longstanding tensions between the tech giant and Indian companies, many of which have previously criticized Google’s practices. The latest dispute underscores the deepening rift between Google and the Indian startup community, with both sides digging in their heels as they await the CCI’s response.
Source: Reuters