Clash of the Titans: Google vs. Indian Apps in Play Store Billing Dispute

On March 1st, 2024, Google began removing popular apps from its Play Store in India. These included prominent names in the job search and matrimony sectors, like,, and BharatMatrimony. The takedowns stemmed from an ongoing dispute between Google and several Indian companies regarding in-app billing and service fees.

The crux of the issue lies in Google’s requirement for developers to use its Play Store billing system for in-app purchases. This system comes with fees ranging from 11% to 26%, which Indian companies argue are excessive. This controversy follows an earlier antitrust order that mandated Google revise its previous fee structure, which ranged from 15% to 30%.

While Google claims these fees support the maintenance and development of the Android and Play Store ecosystem, Indian startups see them as a financial burden. The affected companies have reportedly been seeking alternative billing methods that bypass Google’s system.

The Indian government has also weighed in on the matter. The IT Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, expressed disapproval of Google’s actions and called for a meeting with company representatives. This highlights a potential clash between Google’s dominant market position and the Indian government’s push for a more open and competitive app ecosystem.

As of now, it’s unclear how long the apps will remain unavailable. Some reports suggest that a few apps have already been reinstated, but the larger issue of service fees remains unresolved. This situation has sparked discussions about fostering a more independent app market within India, potentially lessening reliance on the Google Play Store.

Google’s Argument for Mandatory Play Store Billing

  • Security and User Protection: Google argues their billing system offers robust security features to protect users’ financial information and prevent fraud. By centralizing transactions, they can identify and address suspicious activity more efficiently.
  • Convenience and Streamlined Experience: Using a single billing system creates a smoother user experience. Users manage all in-app purchases through their existing Google accounts, eliminating the need for multiple logins and payment methods.
  • Investment in the Ecosystem: Google maintains that the fees charged on in-app purchases contribute significantly to the development and maintenance of the Android operating system and the Google Play Store. This includes security updates, app reviews, and infrastructure costs.
  • Fair Market Practice: Google contends that their fees are comparable to those charged by other app store platforms like Apple’s App Store.

Indian Developers’ Argument Against Mandatory Play Store Billing

  • Excessive Fees: Indian developers argue that the 11-26% commission on in-app purchases is too high, especially for smaller companies with tight profit margins. These fees eat into their revenue and limit their ability to invest in further development.
  • Limited Choice and Innovation: Forcing developers to use Google’s billing system stifles innovation. It prevents companies from exploring potentially more cost-effective or user-friendly payment options.
  • Monopoly Power: Google’s dominant market share in India gives them undue control over app distribution. This lack of competition allows them to dictate terms to app developers with limited alternatives.
  • Government Regulations: Recent Indian regulations aim to promote a more open and competitive app market. Google’s mandatory billing system is seen as an obstacle to achieving this goal.