Image: PhonePe X official handle

When it comes to app stores, Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store are the first things to come to mind. Both of these, however, have seen their fair share of controversies, regulatory attention, and lawsuits (mostly because of the steep commission charged on in-app purchases). Now, India’s PhonePe has revealed a more pocket-friendly alternative in the form of the country’s homegrown offering – the Indus AppStore Developer Platform.

This new app distribution platform promises to offer Android developers an alternative channel for app distribution that is cost-effective, developer-friendly, and highly localized to cater to India’s diverse linguistic and cultural needs.

For years, Google and Apple have dominated the mobile app distribution market. While Google’s Android operating system is the leading choice for the majority of smartphones in India, Apple has a smaller but significant presence. This duopoly has allowed both companies to impose commissions on in-app purchases, often ranging from 15% to 30%, leading to concerns among app developers about high fees and limited flexibility.

PhonePe’s Indus AppStore Developer Platform aims to disrupt this market by offering an enticing proposition to Android app developers. The Indus AppStore Developer Platform enters the Indian mobile app market at a crucial juncture. While Google and Apple have been dominant players, they have also faced regulatory scrutiny and criticism, particularly regarding their commission structures. PhonePe’s alternative could potentially gain traction with developers seeking more favorable terms and greater flexibility.

The platform promises not to charge developers any commission on in-app purchases, marking a sharp contrast to the hefty fees imposed by Google and Apple. This approach could significantly reduce the costs associated with distributing and monetizing apps, making it more attractive for developers. PhonePe has revealed that app listings will be free for the first year, with a nominal annual fee applying afterward, and offer a localised experience in 12 languages for Indian audiences. This pricing strategy should appeal to both established developers and startups looking for a cost-effective way to reach a massive audience.

Furthermore, developers on the platform will have the freedom to integrate their preferred payment gateways, providing greater flexibility in monetizing their apps. This flexibility is a crucial departure from the restrictive policies of Google and Apple, which have been criticized for limiting developers’ choices. The platform is also set to offer a range of developer tools and features to address the challenges commonly faced by Android developers, ranging from a dedicated support team to listing apps in multiple Indian languages and boosting brand awareness through engaging videos. Amongst other things, it is said to come with the Launch Pad – a dedicated section to provide better visibility to new apps along with search optimization.

“India is poised to have over one billion smartphone users by 2026, offering us a massive opportunity to build a new-age, localised Android app store,” said Akash Dongre, chief product officer at Indus Appstore. “Despite being such a large consumer market, app developers have always been forced to work with only one app store – Google PlayStore – for distributing their apps. Indus Appstore hopes to provide app developers a credible alternative to the Google PlayStore – one that is more localised and offers better app discovery and consumer engagement.”