Indian startups and app developers are considering legal action against Google for allegedly imposing excessive fees on digital goods sales through the Android Play Store.
On February 27, startup founders and industry stakeholders met and decided to pursue legal options, including filing a complaint in contempt with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), claiming that Google’s third-party billing policy violates the CCI order. According to Mint, startups will also approach the court and the Indian government.
Google’s new alternative billing policy charges startups and developers earning less than $1 million in revenue annually a 15% fee for using its billing systems for any payments on mobile apps. Others who do not fall into this category are charged 30% by Google.
Regardless, Google charges 11% and 26% fees to users (app developers and startups) who choose third-party billing, according to sources. The startups also claimed that Google uses discriminatory pricing, which would have an impact on market competition.
For the uninitiated, Google updated its app store policy in January 2023 to comply with the CCI order, which found the tech titan abusing its dominant position subject to its app policies and imposed a penalty of INR 936.44 Cr. Following this, the US-based tech giant extended its alternative billing system to all developers in India in February, allowing them to offer alternative billing options to their mobile and tablet users in the country.
It also stated that if a user pays using Google’s alternative billing system, the Google Play service fee will be reduced by 4%. The news comes just a week after the Alliance of Digital India Foundation announced that it would investigate legal options to challenge Google’s alternative billing policy.
It referred to the tech giant’s policy as yet another blatant attempt to violate the competition watchdog’s order on antitrust ruling on Play Store policies. Previously, Epic Games filed a complaint with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in New Delhi, accusing Google of violating the CCI’s order. Epic Games stated that Google’s Play Store is not hosting its app, thereby violating the CCI’s order by not onboarding third-party apps on its app store and preventing users from installing other apps via sideloading.