Well-established firms among 10 not paying Play Store fee; non-compliant apps to be removed: Google

NEW DELHI, March 1 : Google on Friday said a clutch of companies including well-established ones continue to flout its billing norms, choosing not to pay Play Store service fee applicable on the sale of in-app digital goods, and warned that it will not hesitate to take necessary action to enforce policies including removal of such non-compliant apps from Google Play.

Amid a warcry over Google Play billing policy by some prominent Indian startups and the recent launch of Indus Appstore, the Made-in-India app market challenger, Google in a blogpost asserted that allowing a 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 putting all other apps and games at a competitive disadvantage.

“After giving these developers more than three years to prepare, including three weeks after the Supreme Court’s order, we are taking necessary steps to ensure our policies are applied consistently across the ecosystem, as we do for any form of policy violation globally,” Google said.

It went on to say that enforcement of the policy, when necessary, can include removal of non-compliant apps from Google Play. Google, however, added that existing users will be able to continue to access the apps without interruption and that it continues “to offer our support to help developers get into compliance”.

Developers, it said, are welcome to resubmit their apps to be listed on Play by selecting one of the three billing options as part of its Payments Policy.

“Today, we have over 2,00,000 Indian developers using Google Play who adhere to our policies, helping us ensure we have a safe platform; however, for an extended period of time, 10 companies, including many well-established ones, have chosen to not pay for the immense value they receive on Google Play by securing interim protections from the court,” it said.

These developers comply with payment policies of other app stores, Google lamented.

“We’ve always respected local laws,” the tech titan said.

It claimed that for years, no court or regulator has denied Google Play’s right to charge for the value and services it provides.

“On 9 February, the Supreme Court also refused to interfere with our right to do so. While some of the developers that were refused interim protection have started fairly participating in our business model and ecosystem, others choose to find ways to not do so,” according to the blog post.

Google said while it seeks to work with developers to help them through policies and find feasible solutions, “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.

“We’ve constantly evolved our business model in line with the needs of the ecosystem, always staying compliant with local regulations. Our tiered pricing programs benefit Indian developers: only 3 per cent of developers in India sell digital goods or services and therefore need to pay a service fee, the vast majority of whom pay 15 per cent or less the lowest of any major global app store,” it said.

In fact, in India, less than 60 developers on Google Play are subject to fees above 15 per cent, Google claimed.

On the billing options, it said developers can operate on a consumption-only basis without paying a service fee, even if it is part of a paid service. With this option, any developer could allow a user of their app to access content that they paid for outside the app.

They can opt to integrate Google Play’s billing system, enabling them to transact with millions of customers around the world and give their users safe ways to pay and the ability to manage their payments from a central location, it explained.

The developers can also offer an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s for users in India. When users opt for alternative billing systems, the fee is further reduced by an additional four per cent. App developers expanding in international markets can also enroll as part of our user choice billing pilot currently available in 35 markets.

“In the meantime, these developers continue to have other options to operate their business on Android, including distribution through alternative Android app stores or directly via their websites,” Google said.

Google said its commitment to investing in India’s digital future remains unwavering and continued investments to bring the highest available standard of technology to the ecosystem are testimony to that commitment.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the entire ecosystem to ensure the long term viability of these efforts in India,” it added. (PTI)