PhonePe recently announced the launch of the Indus AppStore developer Platform. For those unaware, PhonePe acquired IndusOS back last year after a year long tussle with one of IndusOS’ investors. Indus Appstore is inviting all Android App developers to register and upload their apps using the self-serve developer platform.
As for the timeline of events, it was reported in May 2021 that IndusOS is all set to be acquired by PhonePe. However, a legal dispute broke out between PhonePe and two of Indus OS’ shareholders, Affle Global Pte Ltd (AGPL) and Ventureast Fund, over the valuation of IndusOS, which was done at $60 million by PhonePe instead of $90 million which the shareholders demanded.
However, in July of 2022, PhonePe reached an amicable settlement with AGPL to acquire its entire stake in Indus OS at a premium. PhonePe did not reveal the final valuation of the deal. Now, the platform seems to be ready to go live for the developers.
What Indus Appstore means for developers?
PhonePe is urging developers to make and publish apps on the Indus Appstore. To challenge Google & Apple, PhonePe noted that listings on the Indus Appstore Developer Platform will be free for the first year, post which a nominal annual fee will apply. The Indus Appstore will not charge developers any platform fee or commission for In-App Payments. Developers will be free to integrate any payment gateway of their choice inside their own apps.
In comparison, Google charges 15% service fee for the first $1M (USD) of earnings you make each year when you sell digital goods or services on the Play Store. “Only developers who sell paid apps or in-app access to digital content or services, are subject to a service fee, and more than 99% of those developers are eligible for a service fee of 15% or less”, says Google on its support page.
Apple on the other hand, charges a 30% fee for apps and in-app purchases on the iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and macOS App Store. However, the fee doesn’t apply to free apps. Subscriptions are charged at 30% for the first year, which then drops to 15% for subsequent years.
Another important difference between Apple’s App Store and Indus Appstore is that Apple doesn’t allow any developer to use any other payment system apart from its own. Also, Indus Appstore will get zero commission for in-app payments.
Due to this very same reason, a huge fight between Epic Games (a known publisher of games like Fortnite) and Apple broke out where Epic Games wanted to offer its own payment system for its game Fortnite, which would allow it to avoid paying Apple a 30% commission on in-app purchases. Apple did not allow this and removed Fortnite from the App Store.
Indus Appstore would allow users to integrate the payment gateway of their choice which is a better approach. While Indus Appstore serves as an alternative app store only on Android, iOS developers can also consider making apps for Android now if they considered publishing apps on Google Play Store a hassle.
Next, real-time analytics, deep insights on industry trends, and competitor analysis are also available to help developers adopt best practices. It will also offer several developer tools and features that address the challenges faced by most Android developers, including a dedicated round-the-clock customer support team based in India, the option to list their app in 12 Indian languages besides English and the ability to boost brand awareness via engaging videos.
Appstore will also have a “Launch Pad” for new developers to onboard their apps and provide them with better visibility & search optimisation. “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 localized and offers better app discovery and consumer engagement”, said Akash Dongre, CPO & Co-Founder, Indus Appstore.
Low publishing and hosting cost on the Indus Appstore paired with the flexibility of using any payment gateway should definitely attract a large chunk of developers to release their apps on PhonePe’s new Indus Appstore.
What Indus Appstore means for consumers?
PhonePe currently allows only developers to use the Appstore platform. However, the company says that these apps will be listed on the soon to be launched “Made-in-India” Indus Appstore, offering a localised experience in 12 languages, completely customised for Indian audiences.
For Indian consumers, this would be huge win as they would get a more localised experience which may be a little difficult to access on the Play Store and Apple App Store. Apart from that, it will have mobile number based login which is helpful in a market where many consumers don’t even have an email account, says PhonePe.
The store will support AI-powered real-time monitoring of app vitals during a new version launch. PhonePe is also reported to have partnered with several phone manufacturers to preload the app store on their upcoming devices in India. This could mean that a potential Google Play Store competitor could soon end Google’s monopoly over app distribution in Android OS.