Saturday, December 4, 2021

Startup may arm Indians with Android Market of Their Own

(From L to R) Gamil Akhter, co-founder and CEO of Sapro; Abhiraj Bakhshi, chief product officer of Sapro; Pitobash Vakil, president of WebCollage, and Sanchit Sethi, founder of Pocket Gamer as they pose during an interview with Fox News. South African-owned gaming developer Pocket Gamer has proposed a plan to set up a new, private mobile application store in India that would end Google’s grip on the lucrative market. (Photo: Asia Tech News Service/IndiaTODAY)

As India’s mobile market matures, a startup in India, the biggest country with more smartphones than anywhere else in the world, is looking to defy the rules Google has established in the country by launching a new app store.

Pocket Gamer, which recently raised $25 million from Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. and GetIT Ventures, the Indian arm of France’s Getronics SA, is seeking to change the distribution model of mobile apps to one based on the company’s community.

“By allowing our community members to distribute apps, we can make sure that the best apps that our consumers want will reach them and our consumers will get access to them,” said Sanchit Sethi, founder of Mumbai-based Pocket Gamer.

Handout / Asia Tech News Service via Fox News South Africa-based gaming developer Pocket Gamer has proposed a plan to set up a new, private mobile application store in India that would end Google’s grip on the lucrative market. (Photo: Asia Tech News Service/IndiaTODAY)

Allowing Pocket Gamer and other independents to set up their own stores would allow them to market existing and future apps, Sethi said. The company’s existing retail channel ensures that thousands of games are available across various platforms.

“This would enable us to do more with all the games we have on Pocket Gamer while bringing new games to consumers,” Sethi said.

Because of the massive Indian population, the mobile app market is becoming a cash cow for Google, Facebook and Apple, whose app stores take a 30 percent cut of the revenues.

Technology entrepreneur and investor Suvir Sujan is bullish on Pocket Gamer’s ideas, but cautions against using a “theatrical story” to tell consumers and players about a sustainable model for mobile apps.

“The story should not be theater. It should be factual. Once the art starts changing the economics of the economics, then consumers don’t understand why they should use it or buy it. It becomes a problem,” Sujan said.

As a result, when consumers buy a game, they buy it as much for the entertainment value as for the money.

“The basic idea is very good. The cool thing is to use the app store to the new layer in a different way, to put money in the pocket of the individual,” Sujan said.

Abhiraj Bakhshi, chief product officer of Pocket Gamer, said that to focus on the profits, the company’s approach has to take an “international approach.”

“There is so much investment that we have made from the U.S. as a developer. We believe it’s important to continue doing that here and produce locally but allow people in India to manage it. I don’t think this will just affect Google, though. Every major mobile operator has the same thing going,” Bakhshi said.

Sony, which has the power to enforce intellectual property in India through the Ministry of Information Technology, has an interest in preventing distribution of apps through the Pocket Gamer platform, Sujan said.

Akhter-Sapro

He thinks that the move might be an attempt to get at Sony’s “thinner wallet” strategy by making sure customers have to pay its app store fees. “I don’t know what their aim is,” he said.

Forty percent of Pocket Gamer’s revenues come from downloads in India, more than those in any other market, Sethi said.

“Last year, our revenues in India was about 3 billion rupees,” he said.

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