Indian Entrepreneurs Lambast “Evil” Google After Their Apps Are Removed From Play Store

Hell hath no fury like an Indian entrepreneur scorned.

Indian entrepreneurs whose apps have been removed from Google’s Play Store aren’t mincing their words in attacking the tech giant for its supposed monopolistic policies. Yesterday Google had taken down nearly a dozen apps which had repeatedly refused to comply with Google’s billing policies in paying it a commission for sales made on its store. Google’s action came after the Supreme Court failed to provide relief to these apps in a long-standing case.

Shark Tank’s Anupam Mittal, whose app was removed by Google, again likened Google to the East India Company. “Today is a dark day for India Internet. Google has delisted major apps from its app store even though legal hearings are underway. Their false narratives & audacity show they have little regard for India. Make no mistake – this is the new Digital East India Co and this Lagaan must be stopped!” he railed.

Kuku FM founder Lal Chand Bisu also echoed similar thoughts. “Google is the most evil company for businesses. Our Indian startup system is completely controlled by them…we are now faced with no option but to accept their terms. This will completely destroy our business and make Kuku FM unfordable for the majority of the country, but when have a monopoly cared about anything beyond itself. It feels like we will never be able to operate safely if our ecosystem is controlled by them. We need the Indian govt to step in and save the start-up ecosystem,” he said. founder Vinay Singhal, who’d also appeared on Shark Tank, said Google had become evil. “For a company that once had a motto – Don’t be evil, Google seems to be doing all things evil at this point. STAGE app has been delisted from the Google Playstore today on notice of a couple of hours, just because we refused to give in to their monopolistic policy of allowing only their billing system inside the app. All of us have read about how East India Company took over our country about 400 years ago, this is how it must have felt when it was happening (and probably 100x more),” he posted on X.

Dating app Quack Quack’s founder Ravi Mittal also criticized the move. “We are shocked by Google’s sudden delisting of our app QuackQuack without prior warning. Despite ongoing legal battles, Google’s heavy-handed tactics leave us no choice but to comply with their arbitrary policies. The majority of our userbase is on Android, where we get 25,000+ daily downloads per day, and the Google Play Store is the only option for any company to be present in the Android ecosystem as Google has built this walled garden. This move jeopardizes not just our app but the entire startup ecosystem. We urge the Indian government to intervene and safeguard fair competition before it’s too late,” he said.

Sanjeev Bikhchandani, whose apps and 99Acres were removed from the Play Store, was more restrained, but called for action. “Indian companies will comply – for now. But what India needs is an App Store / Play Store that is a part of Digital Public Infrastructure – like UPI and ONDC. The response needs to be strategic,” he said.

The removal of these apps is the latest move in a long battle between Google and Indian apps over billing systems. Google requires apps to use its billing system for apps listed on the Play Store, for which it charges a high commission. Apps, however, contend that Google’s commission rates, which can be as much as 30 percent, are too high, and an abuse of its virtual monopoly in the Android space. These apps had approached the courts and refused to pay this commissions, but Google, at long last, appeared to crack the whip yesterday, and delisted non-compliant apps.

This is a complex situation, and will likely only be adjudicated by the courts. Google doesn’t force anyone to use its Play Store — apps like Dream11 are available outside it — but the Play Store is the go-to choice for customers, who find it a convenient and safe platform to download apps. Entrepreneurs, too, are able to list their apps on the Play Store, and quickly find customers. It’s a classic platform play, and one that entrepreneurs crying foul over Google’s monopoly would dream of — they’ve all raised large sums of money to corner their own markets, and wouldn’t complain very much if their own companies ended up having a business model like Google’s. But Google, however, is a platform, and a foreign one to boot — for it to take a 30% cut from all Indian startups does have a whiff of unfair monopolistic rent-seeking to it.