April 18, 2024

Google has taken a decisive step by removing several matrimony apps in India amid a serious dispute over service fee payments. Notable platforms, including Bharat Matrimony, have been affected, leading to a strong reaction from Murugavel Janakiraman, the founder of Matrimony.com. 

According to reports, Janakiraman referred to the incident as a “dark day of Indian Internet.”

Google Play Takes Away Some India Apps

The core of the disagreement revolves around attempts by certain Indian startups to resist Google’s imposition of a service fee ranging from 11% to 26% on in-app payments. 

This conflict stems from the country’s antitrust authorities instructing Google to stop its previous system of charging 15% to 30%.

Notably, some startups are yet to comply with this directive. Nevertheless, Google still has a choice of either charging the fee or removing the apps. The company received this right from two court decisions in January and February, including one by the Supreme Court stating that even startups are not excluded.

The consequences were felt on Friday as Matrimony.com’s dating apps, such as Bharat Matrimony, Christian Matrimony, Muslim Matrimony, and Jodii, were deleted. Meanwhile, notices of Play Store violations were issued to Matrimony.com and Info Edge, the company behind the Jeevansathi app. 

Both companies are currently reviewing these notices and considering their next steps, according to reports sent to Reuters. Following the news, shares of Matrimony.com recorded an initial drop of 2.7%, while Info Edge saw a 1.5% decline. 

Notably, the founder of Info Edge, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, has affirmed the company’s willingness to comply with Google’s policies and timely payment of all pending invoices.

Google Responds to the Situation

In response to the situation, Google released a blog post stating that 10 Indian companies are still unwilling to pay for the “immense value they receive on Google Play” over an extended period. 

It also highlighted that only 3% of the over 200,000 Indian developers on the Google Play platform are obligated to pay any service fee.

It further highlighted some enforcement measures, which include compliance with its policies on the Google Play app. In situations where developers fail to adhere, the consequence may involve the removal of non-compliant applications from the platform.

This action does not come with any form of punishment but serves as a means to maintain the integrity and security of the ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the tech giant has defended its right to charge fees, highlighting that no court or regulator has contested this right. Even the Supreme Court refused to intervene on February 9.

This move by Google to remove matrimony apps may potentially trigger strong reactions from the Indian startup community. They have been protesting against the practices of the U.S. tech giant for some years.

With a dominant 94% share of phones based on its Android platform in the Indian market, Google’s actions are closely watched by all. 

However, the company maintains that its fees support investments in the app store and the Android mobile operating system and cover developer tools and analytic services.

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