PhonePe’s Indus AppStore Developer Platform Challenges Google with Zero Fee

In a bold move to compete with Google in its largest market, PhonePe has launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform, promising zero platform fees and no commission on in-app purchases. The Bengaluru-based startup, backed by Walmart, has already gathered a staggering 450 million registered users on its payment app. With this latest endeavor, PhonePe aims to entice Android developers to join its ‘made-in-India’ app store. This article explores the details of PhonePe’s ambitious venture and its potential impact on the Indian tech landscape.

PhonePe’s Challenge to Google

PhonePe is inviting developers to register and upload their apps to its app store, which is backed by various Indian phone manufacturers. The platform offers numerous locally relevant features, including support for third-party payment providers, 12 Indian languages, and a phone number-based login system. Notably, PhonePe will not charge developers any listing fees for the first year, with only a “nominal” cost planned thereafter. This stands in stark contrast to Google, which typically takes a 15-30% commission on in-app purchases.

Furthermore, PhonePe has established an India-based support team to address the concerns of local developers who have expressed dissatisfaction with Google’s delayed responses and U.S. timezone operating hours.

The Background

Reports about PhonePe’s app store plans first surfaced in April, indicating that the company views this move as a strategic necessity. Having raised $850 million in recent quarters and acquired IndusOS in 2021, PhonePe has been actively working on this project for years.

Indian Developers’ Frustration with Google

Despite Google’s dominance, Indian app developers have long been frustrated with the lack of alternatives for distributing their apps. This dissatisfaction has grown due to what they perceive as exorbitant fees imposed by the Google Play Store. Some have even hoped for intervention from Indian authorities, while others have supported initiatives like the Paytm-led mini app store alliance.

The Promise of Indus Appstore

Akash Dongre, co-founder and chief product officer of Indus Appstore, hopes that their platform will provide Indian app developers with a credible alternative to the Google Play Store. He envisions a more localized experience with improved app discovery and consumer engagement.

Google’s Presence in India

Google has heavily invested in the Indian market, with over $10 billion deployed in the past decade. While it reaches over 700 million internet users in the South Asian market, it has faced criticism and regulatory scrutiny in recent years. The company was hit with two antitrust fines in India and was compelled to revise its business agreements with phone manufacturers and partners. Google’s compliance efforts were driven by concerns that changes to its business terms could lead to more expensive devices in India and pose security threats.

PhonePe’s Expanding Horizons

For PhonePe, the app store represents the latest step in its expansion journey. The fintech startup, valued at $12 billion, has diversified into various sectors, including e-commerce and stock trading through its Share.Market app.

In conclusion, PhonePe’s Indus AppStore Developer Platform presents a significant challenge to Google’s dominance in the Indian market. With its promise of zero fees and developer-friendly policies, it has the potential to disrupt the status quo and provide Indian app developers with a much-needed alternative for app distribution. As the competition between these platforms unfolds, it will be interesting to see how it shapes the future of the Indian app ecosystem.


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