Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 18:24 IST

Not the last to compete, but will be the first to start: PhonePe’s CEO on Indus Appstore

Walmart-backed PhonePe acquired the homegrown appstore in 2021 for Android apps, as an alternative to Google Play

Reported by: Gauri Joshi
Sameer Nigam, PhonePe CEO | Image:PhonePe
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India's answer: PhonePe launching the Indus Appstore is not the last alternative to Android app stores like Google Play, but will be the first to start the chain of competition, according to PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam.

PhonePe launched the Indus Appstore in New Delhi’s Bharat Mandapam on February 21, as an alternative to Google Play Store. Offering content in 12 local languages with a video-based discovery, the app store was made part of PhonePe's pool of  

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This comes as Android apps in India and abroad are challenging Google Play over its billing policies. The Indian apps who have challenged Google Play’s billing policies include Matrimony.com and Shaadi.com alongside Unacademy and Kuku FM, among others.

There is also a battle for free market competition in the Indian startup ecosystem. Notably, apps for fantasy sports and gaming, in the likes of Dream11, were not allowed on the Play Store until the previous year.

The alternative comes as a respite to developers, Nigam said, “who are desperate for an alternative.” 

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A billion people cannot be told how to discover new apps in a new-age economy, he added.

The app store targets to list 5 lakh apps by the end of the year, Nigam said, with OEM (Original equipment manufacturers) deals targeted at 200 to 250 million.

Not the first move

Nigam also spoke on PhonePe Switch, the company’s app aggregator. The web app framework, Nigam said, was efficient for some time but was “not more efficient” than a dedicated app store. Launched in 2018, the in-app platform for listing applications was rebranded as Switch in 2019.

Incidentally, Paytm also launched a Mini app store in October 2020 as a response to Google’s dominance in the space, which some believe was a retaliation to it being temporarily removed from Google’s Play Store in September 2020 over violation of developer guidelines on real-money gaming.  

The app store will allow for the listing of heavy games, that are not offered by the Google Play Store. 

"As a platform, we will not opine. The law will tell us what type of content and applications are allowed," Nigam said.

The apps will have to comply with Google’s rules for Android, just as other app stores by mobile OEMs.

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Published February 22nd, 2024 at 15:20 IST