Google has rolled out physical Google Play Gift Cards in retail outlets including Spice Hotspot, Vijay Sales, Planet M, Planet Mobile and Sangeetha Mobile across India. The cards will also be available on Snapdeal and can be paid for by cash on delivery. Currently the gift cards are available in denominations of Rs 750, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500.
The Play store card is redeemable in the Play store for any apps, movies, books and games etc. The platform is currently offers some apps for as low as Rs 10 as a promotion along with discounts on various movies and books. Google had first announced that it would offers Play Store vouchers in India in June this year.
The company informed us then that the the gift cards were issued by an offshore Google entity and only being distributed in India, which, to us, appears to be an interesting loophole in the RBI regulation, which therefore, it appears, allows companies to create gift cards abroad and distribute them in India, while Indian companies would need to buy a license to do the same time. It’s also worth noting that one of Google’s partners in this rollout, BK Modi’s Spice Group, recently got a semi-closed prepaid wallet license from the Reserve Bank of India.
QwikCilver’s Woohoo: Last month, QwikCilver launched e-gift and gift card store Woohoo.in, which it claimed would work across 400 cities and over 150 brands, online and offline. The website basically consolidated from its previous offering GiftBig by migrating the users to Woohoo.in. QwikCilver claims to have around 90% of the prepaid and gift card market share, with over 100 brands across 20 categories like apparel, jewellery, dining, spa and travel among others. The company had secured a five-year prepaid mobile wallet license from RBI in August 2013 along with Mobikwik and Paytm. Interestingly, QwikCilver raised $10 million in funding led by Amazon and existing investors in January, with Amazon picking up 15% stake in the company.
Apps for as little as Rs 10: Last month Google reduced the minimum purchase price for apps on Google Play in India to Rs 10, a fortnight after Apple introduced its new pricing tiers for India, that let developers charge Rs 10 for their apps. Prior to this development, the minimum purchase price for apps on Google Play was Rs 50, or ~$1, as it is for every other country. India is the first country where the lower pricing tier was introduced.
Paid search results in Play store: In February this year, Google started piloting app promotions on the Play Store, essentially bringing advertising to a platform that it was only monetizing with paid transactions earlier. On Google’s conference call last quarter, the company had said that it now views mobile as a part of a users behavior: “people are using screen interchangeably, simultaneously throughout the day. And we really think about the user and the context rather than a particular form factor or device.”