After expensive billing, startups raise fake apps issue with Google


BENGALURU: Google is facing increased backlash from startups on various issues, including the alleged delay in taking down fake apps from its Play Store and the continued difficulty faced by users in downloading competing app store platforms.

Google Play Store is already facing resistance for tightening its payments policy, which recently mandated that all apps have to use its “expensive” billing system for in-app purchases, and for temporarily banning payments app Paytm a couple of weeks ago for alleged violation of its gambling policy. “It’s ridiculous,” said serial entrepreneur Vishal Gondal, referring to the number of copycat apps of its mobile gaming app FAU-G on Play Store.

“It goes into pages and pages. There has been no response. Goog-le is so arbitrary in implementing its policies. These are blatant violations,” said Gondal, cofounder, nCore Games, which had launched FAU-G after Chinese gaming app PUBG was banned in India.

Chingari app founder Sumit Ghosh also said there were multiple duplicates of his short-video app. “Just go to the Play Store and search for Chingari. There are hundreds of fake apps with the same name. They are plagiarising our brand name. We have notified Google hundreds of times to take them down. Some of them have got 50,000-100,000 downloads. We are missing out on those downloads,” Ghosh pointed out.

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Google did not respond to ET queries.
The founder of Indus app store, Rakesh Deshmukh, told ET that the platform has approached the government for policy intervention to compete with Google Play Store. Deshmukh alleged that Google Play Store does not allow downloads of any other app stores. When the company tried directing potential users to the app’s APK, Android phones started giving out security warnings, he said.

Google has said repeatedly that developers can opt for other app stores if they do not wish to use its Play Store to download popular apps. “We need some government support to give us access to the market, which has been blocked by Android. We need a level playing field. The entire policy needs to be designed so that the access to different app stores is the same for users,” Deshmukh said.

If Indus receives positive feedback from the government, it may even approach the Competition Commission of India on the issue, he added.





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