Monopoly of play stores and how open source can help to break it!

In App store business, Google and Apple enjoy the absolute monopoly And Monopoly is unhealthy for competition. I would highlight a few reasons here How to break giants’s monopoly and not let abuse the competition. 

  1. Recently, Paytm was briefly banned in Google play store citing the reasons of violating Google play store terms. Paytm is UPI based payment system licensed by Reserve bank of India and can’t be stopped by any private (non Govt agency) entity for doing their business in India. However Google decision to ban Paytm positions themselves above RBI. Such google’s own policy framework can hurt anyone any time. This is a dangerous trend. 

2. Google and Apple have already announced their intention to charge commission to Apps Who have InApp payments such as Spotify. Spotify charges customers to subscribe to their premium/non premium plans and enjoy quality music of accordingly. So, Google’s intention is to charge commission (~around 30%) to Apps like Spotify (Per transaction) and others will really hurt and discourage the startup ecosystem. Apple too charge 1 time few bucks for hosting any App on Apple store.

It is clearly evident that Govt doesn’t want to initiate a direct action on such giants rather believes whole ecosystem should evolve and response to such draconian policies of giants. So, What are the options?

Obliviously we need an alternative of google play store which is decentralized and collaborative in policy decisions, development and compliance to local authority.

Lets see how it can work with an open source option.

  • An opensource project develops Play store X App which can run on Android/iOS
  • Play store X list down all the Apps which are compliance to its open eligibility criteria.
  • Install custom Apps on the OS
  • Play store hosted on global open platform

Above looks very simple, isn’t it!. However it is very complex to achieve.

Lets understand the road blocks.

  • App store code maintenance as open source project
    • Starting any opensource project is not difficult however as with any other opensource project, its success lies in community. A vibrant community is the key.
  • Where to host the App store?
    • Unlike other code hosting platform like github, hosting App store is not same. Its live and 24×7 up and running.
  • Framing the compliance for App available from Play store X.
    • One of the most difficult part of the idea. Each country as their own regulations and compliance, same time achieving the consensus among all contributors is not an easy thing to achieve.
  • Funding of the project, Is it Profitable or non Profitable organization?
    • Hardest of all. And i dont need to tell the reasons, Why? :-).

So, Are they any existing stuff to achieve this idea? Not really.

There are some handset manufacturer who already own their own Play store like

  • Samsung Galaxy store (Installed on Samsung phone along side of Google Play store)
  • Amazon App store
  • Oppo App Market 
  • Vivo App Store

However all these vendor has their developed and promoted Apps in their play stores. Same time, They don’t host any 3rd party App.

That was about manufacturer/vendor. Is there any open source software based play store in exist?

Yes. Google has F-Droid which is non commercialized use of Android. But it contains only free and open source Apps in its App store. That means, 3rd party App developers too need to open its proprietary App. Also, App which are not allowed on Play store (Due to compliance) and may be Hacked version of Paid Apps hosted here.

So, looks novel idea, isn’t it! But next question in mind!

  • Why would google (Android) or Apple (iOS) will allow us to host our App store on their OS which in directly hurts them?

Of course they willingly wont. But as mentioned in title, Monopoly must be broken. So, who will force them?

Answer is Governments. Yes, in India, we have strong sentiments about “Make in India” or “Aatm Nirbhar Bharat (Self reliant India)”. Govt must encourage and provide a equal and fair play ground for all start ups and business competitors of Google/Apple Unless Giants monopoly wont lets others to grow. They are having huge market share in terms of users of their mobile devices. They cant be toppled overnight. They must be force to give a space to others.

In end, there are multiple challenges in this idea but certainly worth try. But who will lead? Paytm….

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