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IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw says Google cannot remove apps of Indian companies, calls for meeting

Vaishnaw’s remarks come a day after Google removed apps belonging to Matrimony.com, Info Edge (Naukri and 99 Acres), Shaadi.com, Altt, Truly Madly, Stage, Quack Quack, Kuku FM, and other Indian companies.

India’s IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on March 2 said that the removal of apps of Indian companies from the Play Store cannot be permitted and that he has called Google and the impacted companies for a meeting next week.

“India is very clear. Our policy is very clear. Our start-ups will get the protection that they need. I have already called Google, I have already called the app developers that have been delisted, and we will be meeting them next week. This kind of de-listing cannot be permitted.”  — IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

These remarks come a day after Google removed apps belonging to Matrimony.com, Info Edge (Naukri and 99 Acres), Shaadi.com, Altt, Truly Madly, Stage, Quack Quack, Kuku FM, and other Indian companies. Google informed these companies that the apps were not in compliance with the Play Store billing policy, but the founders of these companies told MediaNama that Google is forcing its billing system and service fees on them in violation of the Indian competition regulator’s 2022 antitrust order. The founders went as far as calling it a dark day for Indian companies. You can read our detailed explainer on this issue over here

Some of the apps that were removed yesterday, like Naukri, 99 Acres, and Shaadi, are back on Play today. It is not clear if this is because of the IT Minister’s intervention or because these apps removed the in-app billing component from their app and function merely as consumption apps. Under the consumption-only model, the developer allows the user of the app to access content that they paid for outside the app. Netflix, for example, follows this model where users can subscribe on any browser and access content on the Netflix app. The Netflix app itself does not allow users to pay for a subscription. If developers go by this option they pay no service fees to Google.

Industry bodies like the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) have both criticised Google’s decision to delist these apps and have called for them to be restored:

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