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The Indian government has turned down Apple’s request to sell refurbished iPhones in the country after Samsung and local phone vendors voiced their opposition to the move on environmental grounds, Bloomberg reported today.

This is a setback for the Cupertino firm: its iPhone has a minuscule two percent markets share in India, where half of the population is about 25 years old.

iPhone woes in India

Apple’s iPhone woes in India are understandable—its handset is too pricey for the vast majority of customers in the country where 80 percent of phones cost less than $150.

By comparison, the iPhone SE starts at 39,000 rupees in India, or approximately $587, versus its $399 asking price over in the United States.

India was supposed to become the first country in the world where Apple itself would be officially selling refurbished iPhones. Import of other used goods, such as cars, are precluded by 300 percent duty levies.

To that extent, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kicked off a “Make in India” marketing campaign which is intended to boost local manufacturing.

Samsung mounts public campaign against Apple

Samsung and local phone makers like Intex and Micromax strongly opposed Apple’s proposed plan, citing potential damage to the environment caused by improper handling of outdated and used electronics in the country. Some folks even suggested that letting Apple import pre-owned iPhones into India would hurt local economy because Indians “may choose Apple for its snob value”.

A whopping 1.2 billion people live in India and it’s projected to become the world’s most populous country by 2020. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on “Mad Money” last evening that he counted on emerging LTE markets like India to help grow iPhone sales.

iPhone’s prospect in India

Apple sells its products in India through a network of resellers because local carriers don’t sell phones and it also lacks official retail presence there. Last quarter, the company saw a 56 percent iPhone unit growth in India and is seen making progress on opening its own retail stores there.

India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion recently recommended exempting Apple from a state ruling that requires foreign companies to carry at least 30 percent of their goods from domestic suppliers in their own retail stores.

That decision is currently pending.

Source: Bloomberg

  • Neel Nani

    2.52 billion estimate is not right! It should be 1.252 billion!

  • Jerry

    I have to say for once I’m on samsungs side with the environment. We all know these refurbished phones will not be recycled correctly in India.

    • Rowan09

      You think a South Korean company cares about Indian’s environment? It’s all about money and the environment excuse is just nonsense.

      • Jerry

        I know they could give two shits about the environment but they did raise a valid point to slow apple down. But apple is deff going to prove them wrong like always lol

      • tariq

        I mean, money or not, they still trying to defend environment.
        I don’t think samsung should of said anything to begin with but still, helping environment is a plus

      • Rowan09

        But isn’t the iPhone the most environmentally friendly device? Point is the environment excuse is all nonsense.

      • tariq

        i dont know enough to say if iphone or other phones are environment friendly. I see your point. And also the iphone recycling idea good for enviornment. But if samsung is claiming that local economy will struggle, maybe apple should listen to that side also

      • Rowan09

        This is only for refurbished phones, it’s not stopping sales of iPhones. India is a poor country, there’s more to why the economy is struggling.

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    Samsung and local manufacturers in India are opposed to this on “environmental” grounds? Apple seems to be like the only major company in this world that actually gives a damn about the environment, or at least demonstrates it! Hasn’t the Indian PM read, watched or looked into Apple’s recycling and environmental practices? Apple surely gives you the opportunity to give in your old iPhone or phone phone to get it recycles for either: (a) store credit / general credit , or (b) credit towards a newer iPhone. At the end of the day, it is up to the CONSUMER to make the right choice and make sure that their refurbished phone gets disposed of and recycled in an environmentally-friendly manner! In which case, it is ALSO the Indian govt’s obligation to its people and country to make sure that they encourage people to recycle and properly dispose of old electronics. Apple already gives such an opportunity, now you as a nation and as a people must follow suit!

    Samsuck and co are just afraid of competition from Apple because of rising middle-income individuals within the country who would MUCH RATHER they buy a refurbished iPhone than a crappy Samsung or Micro-whatever!! What a bunch of nonsense if you ask me!!

    • So true. The Indian Gov’t is way off base here. But Apple is disgusting. Who wants over-priced iPhones at western retail prices here in this part of the world? I’d like to see a price reduction, or at least the chance to buy at the prices from the Apple website, and not with the 30% or more S. Asian mark-up. WTF. Regardless, there should be a free market, and then let the market decide.

      • Shinonuke

        India might want to pay for Western retail price as their price is higher, for any iPhone, than even the prices in the United States. Also free market works like this: market put price xx.xx then people decide to buy it or not. No one buy? Price decrease. Too many people want to buy? Price increase. Prices of iPhones have not increase. Unlike Samsung phones that have been steadily increasing

      • Don’t think the free market works like that here for iPhones. The more it costs, the more that the few that can afford it – are willing to pay! In other words, status symbols trump economic sensibilities and everyone wants into the game of being on the supply side of that money-maker.

      • Shinonuke

        Free market works that way and have been with the simple supply/demand. Only market that does not work that way is the healthcare.

  • Mark S

    Ha ha.

  • nyangejr

    Apple should charge affordable prices in developing countries.
    Though it is different between products and services, I like what they did with Apple Music in developing countries

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