In a quick and rather hurriedly manner Paytm announced the launch of its 'Mini App Store' in a retaliatory response to the temporary take down of their app from Google Play Store last month. In essence Mini App Store is rather an aggregation of several apps which takes users to a web version of such partnered app on Paytm. In a statement, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm's Founder and CEO, said the Mini App Store will help Indian developers to leverage the reach and payments to build new innovative services.
For users, it eliminates the need for a separate download and enables them to use their preferred payment option. Currently while there are just a handful of partners who show up on the app, the company is hosting a virtual developers conference later this week as a part of the launch event to cajole more start-ups to come onboard the Paytm ecosystem.
"We are going to explain our vision for the mini app program and the app store and explain the services that will be offered. Developers will get an opportunity to clarify their queries," said Narendra Yadav, Vice President, Paytm.
Meanwhile, Google, which received severe backlash for its 30 per cent fees for developers and mandated use of Google's billing system under its new payment policy, did not ignore this development coming from the world's largest Android mobile user base. In a blog, the company said that it was extending the time for developers in India to integrate with the Play Store billing system, "to ensure they have enough time to implement the UPI for subscription payment option that will be made available on Google Play for all apps that are yet to launch, or that currently use an alternative payment system, we set a timeline of 31st March 2022."
Evidently on the back foot, Google also reiterated its commitment to its partners. The search engine giant also shared plans for setting up listening sessions with leading Indian start-ups to understand their concerns more deeply, together with Policy Workshops to help them better understand Google's policies.
While Paytm's Mini App Store is hardly an app store, one of the biggest hurdles for any new entrant comes from the lack of network effects that formidable incumbents such as Google enjoy, says Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR.
"When it comes to Android users, Google's Play Store is key to use an array of dedicated Google apps. As a result of Google's networked advantages, it becomes tough for app developers as well as users to switch to emerging alternatives," he added.
While the Mini App Store essentially takes back users to a web version, au contraire to the app first approach of start-ups (a decision largely driven by smartphone penetration), Paytm is hoping a seamless experience to the users will do the trick.
"In Mini App Store, we are promising an app like experience on the mobile device. And developers do not have to spend money in getting their own app downloaded on the play store," said Narendra.
While several other companies like Amazon, PhonePe already have similar integration with partners, "Mini apps work best for non-essential app categories where users have often installed it for non-frequent use," says Pavel Naiya, Senior Analyst,Devices and Ecosystem, Counterpoint Research.