Android users in India may soon see a new alternative to Google Play Store

Google Play Store on OnePlus 9
(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The Google Play Store is likely to have an alternative in the Indian market.
  • PhonePe, India's digital payment and financial services firm, is reportedly designing an app store.
  • The app store will be aimed at Android users and will have localized apps with multilingual support.

Most Android users get their apps from Google Play Store, which helps protects their devices from malware that may harm their phones when downloading apps from untrusted sources. However, it looks like users in India are set to receive a new, localized app store.

According to TechCrunch, PhonePe, an Indian digital payments and financial services company (owned by Walmart), is gearing up to launch a native app store for Android device owners in India. For the uninitiated, PhonePe first started as an Android app offering digital UPI payments in the country, which eventually became a direct competitor and alternative to Google Pay.

The new app store is said to provide "hyper-localized" services based on customer context and also promises to help developers attract "high-quality" users involving multilingual solutions, notes TechCrunch.

Google Play Store home page on Android and Chrome OS

Google Play Store home page on Android and Chrome OS. (Image credit: Android Central)

The irony is that the new "app store" will be a stand-alone app that can be downloaded through Google Play Store. TechCrunch is said to have obtained an internal company document that further discloses that this app will provide a "premier experience for millions of users with high-quality advertisements and custom targeting," as well as support for 12 languages and round-the-clock live chat.

PhonePe is presumably designing its new app store based on IndusOS, an Indian smartphone platform (backed by Samsung) offering a localized app experience based on AI and multiple regional language support, which PhonePe acquired in 2021. The local aspect of these apps is developed for users "based on their demographics, lingual preferences, and behavior and offers an intuitive user interface with content-led discovery."

In a statement to TechCrunch, a PhonePe spokesperson noted that it has an opportunity to challenge Google's app store dominance and that it aims to do so by building an alternative app store that is "more localized not just from a language perspective but also from a discovery and consumer interest perspective."

PhonePe further affirmed that it is in talks with OEM makers in the country, noting that it has already "closed terms with one of the largest OEMs" and that it expects to be live on all Android OEMs within a few months after launch. It further insists that "everyone is very receptive, especially since CCI has clarified that Google cannot engage in anti-competitive practices."

The new app store launch comes after the CCI (Competition Commission of India) fined $162 million to Google in India last year for its app store dominance and anti-competitive practices.

As a result, Google announced that it would make some changes to the Play Store in India, which gives users and developers more freedom over default apps, billing, and more.

As such, entering the app store market may be much easier for PhonePe. It will be interesting to see how widely it gets acceptance by Android users in the country, albeit the meticulous launch timeline of the application still needs to be determined. 

Amazon app on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with a Kindle Oasis in the background

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Likewise, it is not the first time that we are seeing an alternate app store to Google Play Store. Amazon did it in the past, especially on the Android-based Fire tablets, which come pre-installed with Amazon App Store.

Vishnu Sarangapurkar
News Writer

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.