Indian startup founders lashed out at Alphabet-owned tech giant Google for removing several apps including Shaadi, BharatMatrimony, Naukri, and 99acres among others.

Anupam Mittal, the founder of People Group which owns, called it a "dark day" for Indian Internet firms. "Google has delisted major apps from its app store even though legal hearings are underway," Mittal posted on X while tagging antitrust regulator CCI (Competition Commission of India).

"Make no mistake - this is the new Digital East India Co and this #Lagaan must be stopped!" Mittal wrote.

BharatMatrimony founder and CEO Murugavel Janakiraman, too, called it a "dark day" for Indian startups. "Google deleted popular Indian apps from the Play Store citing Google Play Billing System (GBPS). They deleted all our apps over 100 including BharatMatrimony, TamilMatrimony, MarathiMatrimony, Jodii, etc," he wrote on LinkedIn.

"Google tried to implement GBPS a few years ago where it forced digital services apps to use their billing system and pay 15% or 30% of revenue compared to less than 2% what apps pay for using other payment gateways," claims Janakiraman.

The competition watchdog had imposed a penalty worth ₹936.44 crore on Google for anti-competitive practices in Play Store policies. CCI had said that Google's Play Store policies require the app developers to "exclusively and mandatorily" use Google Play's Billing System (GPBS) not only for receiving payments for apps distributed or sold through the Google Play Store but also for certain in-app purchases.

Janakiraman says instead of adhering to the CCI order, Google changed their policy asking companies to pay 11% or 26% of commission for using a third-party billing system. Also, they introduced a 3rd option where apps can’t collect payment through the app.

"This policy is applicable only to digital services apps. Google doesn't offer any special services for digital services apps compared to various other commercial digital apps like e.g. e-commerce apps, B2B apps, food delivery apps, etc," he says.

On Friday, Google warned it would remove "non-compliant" apps in India, saying it is taking "necessary steps" to ensure Play Store policies are applied consistently across the Indian app ecosystem. 10 companies, including many well-established ones, have chosen to not pay for the value they receive on Google Play by securing interim protections from court, the U.S. tech behemoth said, claiming these developers comply with payment policies of other app stores.

Google says allowing this small group of developers to get differential treatment from the vast majority of developers who are paying their fair share creates an uneven playing field across the ecosystem and puts all other apps and games at a competitive disadvantage.

Google Play charges a service fee when developers sell in-app digital goods. The tech giant says its tiered pricing programmes benefit Indian developers as only 3% of developers in India sell digital goods or services and therefore need to pay a service fee, the vast majority of whom pay 15% or less – the lowest of any major global app store. Less than 60 developers in India are subject to fees above 15%, it says.

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