The Weekly News Wr(app) – WhatsApp Pushing to Grow in the Payment Market, Google and Apple Once Again Under Scrutiny, Government Plans to Take on Amazon and Flipkart

WhatsApp Pushing to Grow in the Payment Market, Google and Apple Once Again Under Scrutiny, Government Plans to Take on Amazon and Flipkart

Weekly News For You To Stay Updated With The App Industry

The world of apps was dominated by the news of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. But there’s more that’s happened and is still happening.

We have news of fresh antitrust charges against Google and Apple, with their app store policies once again being questioned.

Read all the stories here in our latest edition of the Weekly News Wr(app):

Japan Fair Trade Commision

1. Trouble brewing in Japan for Google and Apple over app store policies

The previous month or so has been relatively quiet since the last antitrust news on the big tech duo. But last week, Google and Apple were being questioned on their app store policies by Japanese regulators.

Japan’s antitrust body is concerned about Google and Apple having its own web browsers pre-installed on phones.  They feel that such “practices prevent users from making decisions and choices” and that this “could eliminate the room for competition”.

The Japanese regulators are not the only ones who view Google and Apple’s policies in the same way. Many countries like South Korea, the USA, India, and those in the European Union give push back on their practices.

The antitrust body in Japan was also concerned about the high fees that developers pay to distribute their products. These fees range between 15% and 30% on each digital transaction.

Apple has strongly objected to the charges laid by the Japanese regulators while Google said that they were working closely with them to comply with the rules.

We’ve seen the same play out in India as well, that is, high commissions, and restrictive policies. Unless third-party app distributors like Indus App Bazaar rise to the fore, we will keep seeing these firms perpetuate their dominance.


Open Network for Digital Commerce

2. Government of India launching an e-commerce network to take on Amazon and Flipkart

Shopping app giants Amazon and Flipkart need to brace themselves because the Indian government is taking steps to loosen their dominance. This government initiative called the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) will give smaller retailers a fairer platform and buyers a chance to access more options.

This open-source platform will be first launched in Delhi, Coimbatore, Shillong, Bengaluru, and Bhopal with more cities to follow.

The ONDC is the government’s response to the predatory pricing and aggressive discounts used by Amazon and Flipkart to capture 80% of the online retail market share. The smaller retailers and traditional merchants fear losing out completely to these giants, even though online retailers only hold 6% of the overall retail market.

With a network like the ONDC, everyone will be able to conduct their trade in a fair manner.

The government is planning to onboard 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants online by the time it releases in August 2022. The government also aims to localize the platform so that rural merchants can easily access it across the 100 cities where the ONDC will be present.


3. Latest app usage trends indicate the world is slowly normalizing post the pandemic

Sensor Tower released research data that showed apps in the medical, travel, and navigation categories saw increased growth in Q1 2022.

Navigation and travel apps recorded a 19% and 23.5% year-on-year increase respectively. This can be owing to the pandemic being controlled in most parts of the world and people traveling more. On the other hand, medical apps saw a 102% year-on-year increase in Q1 2022. Lockdown and COVID restrictions led many people to depend on medical services through apps and it looks like that reliance has continued in the post-pandemic season too.

The data also revealed that app revenue and downloads had a marginal increase in Q1 2022. First-time downloads across both App Store and Play Store were similar at 36.8 billion.

The extremely high numbers in 2020 and 2021 seem to have slowed down for most app categories except for a few, indicating that things are normalizing after a freak event like the pandemic.


4. Paying through WhatsApp to be made attractive with cashbacks

After receiving the green light to offer its payment services to 100 million Indian users, WhatsApp will now try to lure more users with cashbacks.

Users will be offered up to Rs.33 in cashbacks which would be spread over three transactions. It looks like a meager amount but according to Neil Shah, VP of research at Counterpoint Research Indians “won’t leave money on the table”.

WhatsApp’s payment service will be competing with major players like Google Pay and PhonePe here in India. Not to forget Amazon Pay, Paytm, and new players like Tata Neu.

But this is a gamble that WhatsApp is willing to take given that India is its largest market with more than 500 million users.


5. Instagram may soon release a Template feature for Reels

Meta-owned Instagram is making the next move to match the popularity of TikTok by allowing users to make a Reel using a preset format.

A Meta spokesperson commented on the new feature saying, We are always working on new ways to make Reels simpler to create. We are testing the ability for you to make a reel using an existing Template from another reel,”.

This will allow Reel users to the same format as other videos. Creators usually upload existing TikTok videos onto Reels, but the simplicity of the Template feature may change this.


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