In today’s Finshots, we look at whether Google’s Play Store dominance in India is under threat.

The Story

You’ve just splurged on a brand new Android phone. You’re excited and you rush to download an app you can’t live without — Finshots! You fire up the Google Play store to get the deed done.

And there’s a simple reason why the Play Store is your first and probably only choice. It’s preinstalled on your new phone and it’s super convenient. And because Google owns Android, the operating system (OS) that powers the phone, all they have to do is pay a visit to the phone manufacturer and tell them, “Hey, if you want to use Android, then you better preload our suite of apps — the Play Store, Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome…”

Google built a virtual monopoly this way. And since over 95% of smartphones in India run on Android, the Play Store is ubiquitous.

But no one likes monopolies. They’re detrimental to the interests of consumers. Monopolistic companies only care about themselves. They can set up arbitrary rules as per their whims and fancies — like Google demanding a 30% commission on in-app payments. Or mandating that apps use only Google’s internal billing system.

And to keep monopolies in check, we have regulators. In India, there’s the Competition Commission of India which ensures that business is conducted in a fair manner. That a company isn’t trying to restrict competition through unfair means. And when the CCI investigated Google, it came to the conclusion that Google was bullying others. It wasn’t allowing other app stores to flourish. Its tactics meant that only the Play Store featured prominently on all Android phones.

So a few months ago, the CCI fined Google and told the tech giant that it can’t carry on business in this manner. It ordered Google to make way for other app stores as well!

Suddenly, a whole new world of possibilities opened up. Companies started dreaming of creating a Play Store killer. And one of the first ones out of the block is PhonePe. Yup, the king of UPI payments is apparently all set to launch an app store that’ll take Google head-on. They believe that their 450 million registered users need an app store that’s more tuned to the Indian palette —  regional languages and all that.

But breaking Google’s dominance isn’t going to be easy. Not in the least bit.

You see, others have made feeble attempts in the past. Do you remember what happened in 2020 with Paytm?

Well, let us refresh your memory. Paytm introduced this contest on its app that offered cashback and rewards. It was related to the Indian Premier League. But Google said it was akin to gambling and actually took down Paytm from its app store. Paytm was livid. Its CEO asked, “Well, what about all the cashback that Google provides on Google Pay? This is hypocrisy!”

So Paytm went ahead and created a ‘mini-app store’ within its own app.

It didn’t hurt Google.

There were also whispers of the Indian government getting into the app store business. An atmanirbhar moment. But again, that fizzled out. Maybe because they realized it’s not going to be easy.

And most phone manufacturers have their own app stores too. Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Samsung, all of them.

Yet, the majority of app downloads still occur on the Play Store. It’s just become a default practice for users.

So why would this time be any different?

Well, we don’t know if it will be. The only way it will probably work is if the Google Play store isn’t pre-installed on the phones. But even if regulators mandate that, they may not be able to stop phone manufacturers from taking the call themselves. What if Xiaomi decides that it wants to include its own app and the Play Store app? And it’s not coerced by Google in any way.

It’s probably in Xiaomi’s best interest to do so as well because Google has over 3.5 million apps on its store. No other app store comes anywhere close to this variety. So if Xiaomi wants to give the best out-of-the-box experience to a new phone buyer, it needs to make it easy for them to find the apps they need and want — ergo, the Play Store remains the default option. That means most developers will keep building products for eyeballs on the Play Store too. That’s where they’d prefer to be to get maximum distribution. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Also, one reason why people download apps freely from a Play Store or the Apple App store is because they trust that the tech giants have done the due diligence before approving an app. That the shady, malicious ones are weeded out. They may not have the same degree of trust with other app stores.

But PhonePe might have one trick up its sleeve. It doesn’t need to build an app store from scratch. You see, last year, PhonePe made quite an interesting acquisition. It picked up a company called Indus OS.

If you havent heard of them, just know that a decade ago, IndusOS began life as an operating system. Kind of like a swadeshi version of Android. But things didn’t quite work out and they pivoted to being an app store called App Bazaar. While it didn’t set any charts on fire, it did get some traction. It got over 400,000 apps to list on the store. It was downloaded 1 billion times. And this app store was available in 12 Indian languages too. It was for the masses.

It even began to power Samsung’s very own Galaxy store. Samsung just paid a fee and white-labelled the Indus App Bazaar for itself. So you could see it was a pretty solid offering.

And don’t forget that PhonePe has already tried its own version of a mini-app store called Switch. It has the experience. It now needs to go out there and convince phone manufacturers to give its app store a shot. Maybe rely on the CCI order to give it the boost. Get itself the ‘preinstalled’ app status.

We don’t know if it’ll work. But we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye to see how this App Store battle evolves.

Until then…

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‌Ditto Insights: Why Millennials should buy a term plan

According to a survey, only 17% of Indian millennials (25–35 yrs) have bought term insurance. The actual numbers are likely even lower.

And the more worrying fact is that 55% hadn’t even heard of term insurance!

So why is this happening?

One common misconception is the dependent conundrum. Most millennials we spoke to want to buy a term policy because they want to cover their spouse and kids. And this makes perfect sense. After all, in your absence you want your term policy to pay out a large sum of money to cover your family’s needs for the future. But these very same people don’t think of their parents as dependents even though they support them extensively. I remember the moment it hit me. I routinely send money back home, but I had never considered my parents as my dependents. And when a colleague spoke about his experience, I immediately put two and two together. They were dependent on my income and my absence would most certainly affect them financially. So a term plan was a no-brainer for me.

There’s another reason why millennials should probably consider looking at a term plan — Debt. Most people we spoke to have home loans, education loans and other personal loans with a considerable interest burden. In their absence, this burden would shift to their dependents. It’s not something most people think of, but it happens all the time.

Finally, you actually get a pretty good bargain on term insurance prices when you’re younger. The idea is to pay a nominal sum every year (something that won’t burn your pocket) to protect your dependents in the event of your untimely demise. And this fee is lowest when you’re young.

So if you’re a millennial and you’re reading this, maybe you should reconsider buying a term plan. And don’t forget to talk to us at Ditto while you’re at it. We only have a limited number of slots everyday, so make sure you book your appointment at the earliest:

1. Just head to our website by clicking on the link here

2. Click on “Book a FREE call”

3. Select Term Insurance

4. Choose the date & time as per your convenience and RELAX