A group of Russian developers is planning a Google Play alternative for Android users, which should give residents of the country access to paid apps and services that have been lost due to sanctions.
Google has suspended the ability to purchase apps and games, make subscription payments, and make “all in-app purchases” of digital goods through Google Play in Russia starting March 10. It urged developers building apps to offer “critical services” for free.
According to ANO Digital Platforms, the organization behind the new App Store, NashStore will launch on May 9th, the same day the country has a public holiday to mark its victory in World War II. The organization behind it also serves as an industry association and IT consulting firm, and hosts a registry to connect software makers with business customers.
Vladimir Zykov, project manager of ANO Digital Platforms, said about the move: “Unfortunately, Russians can no longer use Play Market normally to buy and pay for applications, and developers have lost their source of income. That’s a fact we’re standing in front of today.”
NashStore translates to “Our Store” and is reportedly designed to work with all Android devices, accepting payments from bank cards compatible with Russia’s Mir payment system.
The store, which has yet to launch, will allow users to download, install and update apps, as well as pay for subscriptions. It will also have “all the usual features,” including a five-point app rating scale, a feedback system, and more.
One thing NashStore habit When it launches (unless it gains significant traction between now and launch), there will be a plethora of apps. Currently, over 500 developers have joined the NashStore community, but it’s not here yet.
The NashStore FAQs ask whether the new store will be a full Google Play replacement or not, ANO said they are working on it. “Right now, our mission is to allow users to purchase familiar applications,” for which ANO is “actively recruiting developers to connect to our platform.”
Russia has been hit hard by western sanctions since invading Ukraine at the end of February. Visa and Mastercard have suspended Russian operations, as have PayPal, Netflix, and others. Big tech companies have also put the business on hold, including Apple and Samsung, which are ceasing sales.
Apple’s App Store has not yet closed its doors to Russia, although it has shut down Apple Pay and taken steps to close loopholes allowing Russian users to continue using it after sanctions take effect.
Zykov is aware of Russia’s weak position towards Apple: “So far, they have not removed the ability to pay by mobile phone, although they have repeatedly stated that Apple has such plans … [we will] watch and wait.”®