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PhonePe's App Store: 3+1 questions
Do we need 1 more?
PhonePe has announced the launch of its upcoming app store (Indus), which is the result of its earlier acquisition of IndusOS.
While this is an important milestone in Indian startup ecosystem journey - i.e. a company challenging the likes of Apple and Google, here are questions that I have for PhonePe team.
The PR so far has been about anti-Google stand.
Question: And then, what?
Fundamentally, if a product starts by taking an anti-incumbent stand and offers no solid value prop, it doesn’t go beyond the early adopters. Paytm too went all-in with an anti-Google stand and nothing really happened / the idea couldn’t spread.
PhonePe obviously has IndusOS which is ‘THE’ leverage, but it really needs to answer what’s in for consumers to even look at it - after all, beyond the jingoism of deshbhakti, nobody cares about new platforms.
Of course, IndusOS has (claims to) 100 million userbase, thanks to its partnership with OEMs, but beyond the existing value prop, what else is PhonePe launching? Or it's just an integration of brand with IndusOS?
Play store/App stores are all about Trust and Ease
Qn: What’s PhonePe offering to app developers?
Try uploading your app on third party app stores like Xiaomi, Amazon and you’d know the value play store/app store bring to the app developers :)
What about PhonePe? What does it offer? Why would app developers trust a private entity which is largely funded by global VCs?
Of course, large scale consumer brands will look at it as one-more distribution channel (+ a red-carpet welcome by PhonePe team), but for indie developers- everything boils down to..’why one more channel? how can it bring value’?
And India is largely comprised of the latter, i.e. the indie app #productgeeks.
Google’s commission? Is that really a problem?
Important to note that Google’s service fee is primarily for digital goods sold through the play store. Guess what’s the percentage of Indian app developers who sell digital products? Only 3% (source).
Plus, only 60 out of over 200,000 app developers earn more than $1mn annually to get into the 30% commission bracket.
ONLY 60! Imagine.
That is, beyond the top developers - things aren’t as bad as we hear it out from media.
The other way to read this is that the ‘regular’ app developers have their own shit to take care of.
Made in India is fine..but PhonePe is owned by…
As somebody who believed in the Indian startup ecosystem way before anybody else, I am all for made in India platforms.
But in case of PhonePe, it is owned by Walmart and the big question is this - what happens to such ambitious plays when it starts to hurt Google/Apple and Walmart has to decide which side to be on?
What’s your take on the PhonePe app store? What would you expect it to be?
As an entity which is launching an ambitious AI app, these are the questions I have for PhonePe team. Feel free to add yours in the comment section!