There is more friction incoming, between Google and a couple of yet another Indian unicorn companies. Zomato and Swiggy, two of India’s biggest food delivery platforms, received notices yesterday, in a fashion that is similar to the one that was served to Paytm. Both the apps had launched new in-app gamification features as cricket’s biggest league went underway, and both were served notices to remove the same from Google.
IPL season is one of the most opportunistic times of the year for Indian companies, and Zomato figured out a way to cash in on the hype. The company introduced a new feature on its platform, asking users to predict certain elements of a match, in return for cashbacks. The idea allowed Zomato to increase user engagement, inspiring rival Swiggy to add something similar to its offering as well.
And so far, it has worked phenomenally. A report by Zomato claims that food delivery sales have recovered by 10% in September over the previous month, reaching 85% of its pre COVID numbers.
However, it looks like Google isn’t having any of that, as it sent out notices to both Zomato and Swiggy to stop the gamification features on their apps, much like it did with Paytm.
Now, both the startups have put down their weapons, and effectively removed said features from their platform, with a Zomato spokesperson telling ET, “We are a small company and have already realigned our business strategy to comply with Google’s guidelines. We will be replacing Zomato Premier League with a more exciting program by this weekend.” For the record, Zomato is valued at well over $1Bn, so clearly not a ‘small’ company by any means.
While not much is known, Google apparently sent notices to the two platforms under the same ‘gambling’ policies due to which it took down digital payments giant Paytm’s app last month. The tech giant took down Paytm from the Play Store for providing cash backs on its platform. However, Vijay Shekhar Sharma notes that the feature was not very different from the scratch cards that Google provides on the Google Pay app, and has gone on publicly to heavily criticize Google for its biasness and bulliness.
Google’s behaviour has invited scrutiny from tech companies around India, which have now proposed the idea of an Indian app store to fight off the duopoly of Apple and Google.