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After Play Store’s tobacco ban, Dunzo launches separate Android app for cigarette orders

However, Dunzo is not the only app to take advantage of Android’s flexibility on Play Store’s rules as several real money gaming apps do it too.

After removing cigarettes from its main app due to new Play Store policies, delivery service Dunzo has launched an identical but slightly rebranded version of its Android app called “Dunzo Mo” that allows for cigarette orders. The workaround app was silently made available on its website, and is available as an APK download outside the Play Store ecosystem; cigarette orders continue to be available on iOS and Dunzo’s web version. The company has moved quickly — as it was just in April that Dunzo stopped offering cigarettes on its Android app and confirmed that the delisting was due to Google’s policies. Interestingly, Google is an investor in Dunzo and has put in an unspecified amount of money twice into the company.

MediaNama has reached out to Dunzo for comment.

Faced with pressure from a Western advocacy group, Google added a policy this year that prohibited apps that “encourage” the “inappropriate consumption” of tobacco and liquor. Interestingly enough, Apple’s App Store has the exact same policy, but Dunzo continues to sell tobacco products, labelled by the company as “Paan,” in the iOS version of the app. All the better for the company as sideloading apps to Apple devices is much harder and, by default, not even allowed.

Dunzo is far from the first Indian company to take advantage of Android’s relative openness to get around Play Store’s restrictions. Real money gaming apps, which are prohibited by Google on Play Store, have sometimes resorted to only distributing the app to Android users, and that too with an APK file that is downloaded directly — the biggest example so far is Dream11, which is not available on the Play Store, and completely unavailable for iOS users; users have to punch in their phone number on the service’s website to get a link that lets you download the app directly.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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