‘India is emerging as an app development hub for the world’

External reports indicate that India is expected to surpass the US as the country with the highest number of developers in the future.

September 06, 2022 03:38 pm | Updated 03:49 pm IST

Google Play has completed a decade in India

Google Play has completed a decade in India | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Google Play has completed a decade in India. In an exclusive emailed interview with The Hindu, Aditya Swamy, Director of Play Partnerships at Google, discusses the evolution of the local app ecosystem, the platform’s initiatives towards local developers, app store commission policy, and the future areas of focus for the company. 

Edited excerpts of the interview below.

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How important is India as a market for Google Play globally?

Aditya Swamy: India will evolve from a leading app consumption economy to a leading app development hub. External reports indicate that India is expected to surpass the US as the country with the highest number of developers in the future. Growing monetization in India also offers a significant opportunity. The country has a large user base increasingly opening up to online transactions, helping the revenue momentum grow. Consumer spending on Indian apps and games in Google Play rose 80% in 2021 compared to 2019. India is not only significant for us from a user and a download point of view but also as a growing region for monetisation.

How has the local app ecosystem evolved over the past decade?

AS: In the past decade, we have transformed into an app-first country. Today, we are seeing apps empower communities, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth. India has crossed a milestone of 100 unicorns, and a significant portion of these businesses are powered by apps.  Today, apps have become an essential part of every Indian’s life and are fueling a new generation of internet users. A thriving ecosystem of developers and startups in the country have made this possible. At Google Play, we are glad to have been a partner in this journey and help turn ideas into businesses.

It is exciting to see how one can be sitting in any city in India today and build a business that people across the country, and around the world, can engage and interact with.

How has Google Play evolved in India and supported local developers in the past decade?

AS: We have always been committed to helping Indian developers of all sizes build successful, locally relevant businesses. We support developers with powerful tools and features, data and insights, programs tailored to their needs, and educational resources to build apps on Play. Our data and analytics have helped developers understand, reach, and build for local and global audiences on Google Play.  Today, our store is a lot more local and we are focussed on showcasing a diverse range of relevant apps for Indian users. We have rolled out locally relevant forms of payment like the UPI and recharge codes. We have also supported developers with training and development programs. Play Academy has trained over 80,000 developers in India, more developers than any other country. 100 exciting app-preneurs graduated from our Appscale Academy program with MeitY Startup Hub. 

How is Google’s Play Store relationship with local developers and startups changing?

AS: Working alongside startups and developers has always given us an understanding of how technology can be more helpful and drive transformative impact in society. Categories like games and entertainment have always received great interest, but utility categories like ecommerce, foodtech, UPI and transformational categories like education, health, and languages services are growing and have changed the app landscape.  We can see a lot of new verticals emerging like agri-tech is a new space which we believe will scale from India. From providing content in vernacular languages to building for communities, local developers impact the lives of many. We have worked with 100 promising startups recently as part of our Appscale Academy programme and helped build apps. The impact driven by all these local founders keep us optimistic about the future of India’s app ecosystem. 

Play Store’s 30% commission from developers has triggered criticism. How do you justify the commission as developers have complained it is an exorbitant amount being charged ?

AS: Our service fee supports our continued investments across Android and Google Play, allowing for a range of distribution, development, and security services, and reflects the value we provide to consumers and developers.

Globally and in India, to help developers succeed on Play, we have announced reductions in our service fee for different categories of developers.  We’ve moved beyond a single service fee model as developers operate in different industries that require different levels of support to build sustainable businesses. Only 3% of developers pay a fee, and of that small percentage, 99% of developers globally qualify for a service fee of just 15% or less.

What are your areas of focus for the future ?

AS: We are sitting at the cusp of a tech revolution powered by apps.  We also want to help every developer with an idea capitalize on the potential to reach 2.5 billion monthly active users and 190 countries with Google Play. We will continue to evolve our tools and business models to support developers and help them grow their businesses. We remain committed to building a truly local Play for India and invest in initiatives to enable a diverse range of developers to build helpful apps on Play. User safety will remain a top priority for us.

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