NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Dozens of India’s technology startups, chafing at Google’s local dominance of key apps, are banding together to consider ways to challenge the U.S. tech giant, including by lodging complaints with the government and courts, executives told Reuters.
Although Google, owned by Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O, has worked closely with India’s booming startup sector and is ramping up its investments, it has recently angered many tech companies with what they say are unfair practices.
Setting the stage for a potential showdown, entrepreneurs held two video conferences this week to strategise, three executives told Reuters.
“It’s definitely going to be a bitter fight,” said Dinesh Agarwal, CEO of e-commerce firm IndiaMART INMR.NS. “Google will lose this battle. It’s just a matter of time.”
He said executives have discussed forming a new startup association aimed chiefly at lodging protests with the Indian government and courts against the Silicon Valley company.
Nearly 99% of the smartphones of India’s half a billion users run on Google’s Android mobile operating system. Some Indian startups say that allows Google to exert excessive control over the types of apps and other services they can offer, an allegation the company denies.
The uproar began last month when Google removed popular payments app Paytm from its Play Store, citing policy violations. This led to a sharp rebuke from the Indian firm’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, whose app returned to the Google platform a few hours later, after Paytm made certain changes.
In a video call on Tuesday, Sharma called Google the “big daddy” that controls the “oxygen supply of (app) distribution” on Android phones, according to an attendee.