Skip links

Google delists top Indian apps from Play Store

On March 4th, 2024, ten of India’s most popular apps like Naukri, Alt Balaji, and Shaddi were removed from the Play Store. According to experts, Google delisted these apps over a non-compliance with the billing policies.

In India, Android has a market share of more than ninety percent. App developers here prefer listing their apps on the Google Play Store. That way, they can appeal to a broader audience and grow their subscribers.

The Kuku FM co-founder on Friday made a post on LinkedIn about Google removing the company’s app from the Play Store. Kuku FM is an audio platform that hosts books and podcasts in seven languages. The app is more than five years old and boasts a whopping ten million downloads on the Play Store.

Google’s actions came only hours after the company announced it would start enforcing a new payment policy. The enforcement meant Google could remove apps from their platform that were ‘non-compliant’ with these new policies.

Hence, many internet users in India sought Government intervention. The only way to get the apps back on the platform is for the Indian Government to relist apps that were removed without warning.

Anupam Mittal, the CEO of noted that his app was also removed by Google. He stated, “The Government needs to intervene now and direct the CCI (Competition Commission of India) to ensure Google is in compliance with their order and immediately restore all apps that were delisted.”
The many protests started by Indian companies and start-ups resulted in the Indian Government stepping in. IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw indicated he spoke to Google about the delisted apps. He is also expected to meet Google representatives and the affected app developers on the issue.

On Saturday, Google relisted the Indian apps it had previously removed from the Play Store. The move came after the Indian Government objected to the decision.

Here is a list of all the apps previously delisted

The cause for apps being delisted

For the last three years, app developers everywhere have been unhappy with Google because of the latter’s fees. Google charges app developers a large sum to list their apps on the Play Store. Additionally, the developers must follow Google’s strict compliance rules. Recently, Google reduced some of their fees but many developers argue that it wasn’t enough.

Indian developers grew tired of waiting for a response from Google and sought to change things. They requested the CCI to tell Google to provide alternate payment methods. That way, the developers had options available to them and were not shoehorned into Google’s way.

The CCI responded to the request and Google agreed. Google made it clear that developers can use alternate payment methods. However, they had to pay Google a fee when users buy goods or services on their apps. Developers hit back at this, stating those fees cut into the profits or any additional money they make. They argued that Google’s exorbitant fees made it impossible to turn a profit.

Google’s perspective

Google asserts that only ten Indian developers using Google Play chose not to pay for their services. Meanwhile, the other users (who are more than 200,000) follow the billing policies the company outlined.

Google stated that allowing a small group of developers to get preferential treatment from the rest creates an uneven playing field. The company believes that this approach negatively affects the ecosystem and puts the other apps and games at a significant disadvantage. The company even stated it gave the developers more than three years to prepare for the changes.

Following the delisting, nearly thirty Indian startups wrote to Google requesting the search giant not to delist or take precipitative steps against app developers till March 19. On Feb 9th, the Supreme Court refused to hold Google back from delisting apps that did not comply with the rules.

Moving forward

Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of Bharat Matrimony noted the difficulty companies have with seeking legal remedies against Google. The reason for this problem is that the apps were removed from the Play Store on Friday.

Google later sent an email to Bharat Matrimony. In it, the company stated the app was not compliant with one or several developer program policies. The search engine giant added that the app’s distribution would be limited to some regions and countries. India was not part of the list of regions the company mentioned.

Executives at the companies affected by Google’s delisting state that they will comply with the policies for now. That said, they are also litigating Google on the matter.

India is not the only country dealing with these issues. Presently, Google faces regulatory scrutiny by the UK, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea over Google Play’s questionable business practices.

Update: With the help of the Indian Government, the tech giant has agreed to reinstate all Indian apps it had abruptly delisted from the Play Store.

Leave a comment