Weekly News For You To Stay Updated With The App Industry
Like how the Indian government made payments easier with UPI, they’re trying to make e-commerce easier for buyers and sellers. Companies like PhonePe see the potential and are therefore betting big on it.
That’s one story we have in this week’s edition of The Weekly News Wr(app).
We’ve got more and you can read it all here.
1. South Korean regulators to probe Google and Apple again
A fresh inquiry by the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) into Google’s and Apple’s policy over in-app payments is underway.
The KCC is led to believe that the big tech duo is breaching the Telecommunications Business Act that was passed last year. The act gave app developers the freedom to include alternative payment methods for in-app purchases thus allowing them to bypass the high commissions Google and Apple charge.
The incident with the Kakao Talk app is one reason to believe the allegations to be true. Kakao Talk was banned from providing app updates on the Play Store because they added external payment links on their app. But the Korean messaging app got the ban lifted only after they removed those alternative payment links.
Also noteworthy is the surprise inclusion of a homegrown app store in the probe. This is the ONE Store by SK Group in South Korea which has allegedly broken the rules.
Since the inquiry is still ongoing, any kind of verdict will have to be waited upon.
2. Netflix games not doing so well
The games that Netflix offers on its app are doing badly, according to Apptopia. The games have a monthly user base of 1.7 million, which is roughly 1% of its 221 million subscribers. Moreover, Netflix's game recorded only 23.3 million downloads, a paltry number compared to popular games like Subway Surfers and Among Us which have about 100 million downloads.
This has been a season of woe for the streaming giants. Starting with recording their lowest ever growth since 2015, to introducing an ad-based plan with fewer titles, to seeing a further loss in their subscriber count (to the tune of 1 million subscribers), this news of badly performing games does not help.
Although, they did see an upturn in fortunes with the release of their Stranger Things 1984 game. But that hasn’t helped in the overall numbers since Netflix introduced games in 2021.
What Netflix does next is anyone’s guess.
3. PhonePe planning big e-commerce push with ONDC
Fintech giants PhonePe is looking to set up a new app dedicated to e-commerce only. This move comes at a time when the company looks to get on board the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), a government-initiated platform.
On the ONDC platform, buyers will have access to sellers from the smallest to the larger ones without signing up on a specific app like Amazon or Flipkart. Even tech giants like Microsoft are looking to set up some sort of shopping app in India to leverage this platform.
This is a big step for PhonePe, which is looking to break away from Flipkart (who acquired them in 2016) and work independently. Sameer Nigam, co-founder of PhonePe said in an interview, “It (e-commerce) is somewhere between moonshot– because of ONDC - and a very large market to tap into… The opportunity is larger than payments but it is much riskier… because nowhere in the world any government or industry has aggregated so many aspects of fulfillment– logistics, inventory management, seller and buyer platforms among others,”
E-commerce is still a growing market in India. It’s estimated to be valued at $600 million with e-commerce showing a 5-7% penetration only. PhonePe is looking to raise further capital aiming to elevate its valuation from $5.5 billion to $12 billion. In December 2020, Walmart invested $700 million in PhonePe leading to its current valuation of $5.5 billion.
Ultimately, the e-commerce push comes with the goal of increasing revenue streams for PhonePe. Thus, they’re betting big on it.
4. India can be a global player in app development
There are times when we look at our competitors and have to agree with what they believe in. In this case, it’s Google’s director of Play Partnerships, Aditya Swamy who firmly believes that India can be fertile soil for app developers.
Speaking on the 10-year anniversary of Google Play in India, Swamy said that “apps and developers will play an important role in further enabling India’s progression to a truly digital economy. They will also play a significant role in driving economic growth and jobs”.
An encouraging sign for app development in India is the emergence of developers from Tier-II and Tier-III cities and the rise of women co-founders and leaders. Some cities that have shown positive signs for app development include Lucknow, Coimbatore, and places in Kerala and Gujarat too, according to Swamy.
Swamy also added that Indian app developers have an eye for a global audience with India being their primary market and the foundation for their future. He believes that India is going to shift from being app downloaders to a “hotbed for innovation and tech development”.
5. Google Meet users can now watch YouTube and listen to Spotify together
Google is continuing its work on merging its two video calling apps Duo and Meet with this latest sharing feature. Earlier this year, Google Duo came up with an update that allowed users to watch YouTube videos together and this is now brought to Meet.
Along with YouTube, Google Meet users can also listen to music on Spotify while on call. However, you won’t be able to listen to music without a Spotify Premium subscription since you need its group session feature (which is available only on premium).
Additionally, you can also play games like Heads Up, UNO, and Kahoot.
On a side note, Google now calls the Google Duo app Google Meet and the original Google Meet is now renamed “Google Meet (original)” with a green logo. Eventually, they plan to have only one app. Till then you’ll have to deal with the confusion (sarcasm intended).
6. VLC banned in India
The media playing software and app, VLC was banned in India for no apparent reason. Felix Paul Kühne, a board member of VLC’s parent company VideoLan, said they first noticed the ban because their worldwide website impressions dropped by 10-15%. According to Kühne, VLC’s website and app were blocked since February 13th this year.
Kühne could not say what the reason for the ban was since they didn’t hear from the Ministry of Electronics and IT. In a surprising twist, the Ministry is denying any involvement in the ban.
One possible reason for the ban could be Chinese hackers. However, Jean-Baptiste Kempf, president and lead developer of VideoLan declared that VLC is safe and is not controlled by Chinese hackers.