New Delhi: Google announced on Friday that its third-party “in-app” beta billing system will be extended to India and some other markets, allowing non-game developers to provide users with a choice of an alternative billing mechanism alongside that of Google Play.
Reasonable service fees will continue to apply in order to support investments in Android and Play, according to Google. However, the details of the reasonable service fee were not disclosed. Users will still have the option to use the Google Play billing system.
“With this next phase of the Google Play User Choice billing beta, all non-game developers can offer an additional billing option alongside the Play billing system for their users in Australia, Japan, India, Indonesia and the European Economic Area,” a Google spokesperson said.
“We will be sharing more in the coming months as we continue to build and iterate with our pilot partners,” the spokesperson added. Through this, all non-game developers globally can sign up to participate in the beta program and offer this option to mobile and tablet users in these specific markets.
The move comes amid discontent among developers as well as increased global scrutiny of app store standards, and the way large app stores regulate commissions. Simply put, User Choice billing refers to the developers’ ability to offer an alternative in-app billing system along with Google Play. At checkout, users can choose which billing system to use.
In-app purchases are additional content, features, or subscriptions that users purchase within a particular app. The Google Play Billing Policy has long required developers to use the Google Play billing system for in-app purchases of digital goods.
Earlier this year, Google announced a new beta program to explore user choice billing in apps on Google Play, allowing participating developers to offer an alternative billing system for users next to the Google Play billing system.
In March, Google said it would allow Spotify to use its payment system in its Android app as part of a new beta program. After a new law was passed in South Korea last year, Google also said it would allow developers to bring third-party payment systems along with its own in this market.
According to Google, Google Play is the first and only major app store to experience user choice billing. No other major app store, whether on mobile, desktop or game consoles, has taken similar steps toward providing more payment options and opportunities for developers, users, and the entire internet ecosystem, he asserts.
“Android has always been a uniquely open operating system, and we continue to evolve our platform and increase the choices available to developers and users, while maintaining our ability to invest in the ecosystem,” a Google spokesperson said in the latest announcement.
Over the past two years, Google has moved away from one-size-fits-all pricing and according to its estimates, 99 percent of developers currently qualify for a service fee of 15 percent or less. Google emphasizes that it constantly listens to outside feedback and considers changes in the business that will enable the Android ecosystem to compete and thrive.