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Google Removes Indian Matrimony Apps From Playstore Over Fee Dispute

On Friday, Google initiated the removal of apps from 10 companies in India, including popular matrimony apps like Bharat Matrimony, amidst a dispute over service fee payments. This move potentially sets the stage for a showdown with startup firms.

The dispute revolves around efforts by certain Indian startups to resist Google’s imposition of a fee ranging from 11% to 26% on in-app payments, following an order from the country’s antitrust authorities to dismantle an earlier system charging 15% to 30%.

Despite two court decisions in January and February, including one by the Supreme Court, not granting any relief to startups, Google gained the green light to enforce the fee or remove apps.

Founder Murugavel Janakiraman of disclosed that dating apps such as Bharat Matrimony, Christian Matrimony, Muslim Matrimony, and Jodii were removed on Friday, deeming it a “dark day of Indian Internet.”

Alphabet Inc’s unit sent notices of Play Store violations to Indian companies and Info Edge, which operates a similar app, Jeevansathi. Executives from both companies informed Reuters that they are reviewing the notice and contemplating next steps.

Following the Reuters report, shares of fell by up to 2.7%, later recouping losses, while Info Edge saw a 1.5% decline.

Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani stated that the company had settled all pending Google invoices promptly and adhered to its policies.

In a blog post, Google indicated that 10 Indian companies had opted not to pay for the “immense value they receive on Google Play” for an extended period. However, the company did not disclose the names of these firms.

Google asserted its right to charge fees, emphasizing that neither courts nor regulators have disputed this right. Additionally, the Supreme Court on February 9 declined to intervene in this matter.

Google’s decision to remove apps could potentially stir discontent within the Indian startup community, which has long protested against several practices of the US tech giant.

While Google maintains its dominance in the Indian market with a 94% share of Android-based phones, it defends its fee structure as vital for investing in the app store, the Android mobile operating system, and providing free distribution, developer tools, and analytic services. Only 3% of the over 200,000 Indian developers using the Google Play platform are obligated to pay any service fee, Google added.

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