Apr 05, 2016

    Apple's push in India to sell used iPhones draws angry call


    APPLE'S latest attempt to crack the Indian smartphone market - by selling used phones - is meeting a wall of resistance.

    The iPhone maker is seeking permission to become the first company allowed to import and sell used phones into the country, its second attempt in as many years.

    This time, the stakes are higher and a growing number of industry executives are fighting the move, warning government officials in private that it will open the floodgates to electronic waste, jeopardise local players and make a farce of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make In India scheme to encourage local manufacturing.

    Apple's application last year was rejected by the Environment Ministry without much fanfare.

    But things have changed since. India, as the world's second largest mobile population, now represents a vast untapped opportunity for Apple, just as China and the United States are slowing.

    Apple has publicly talked up its prospects in India and is on course to get the green light to open its first retail stores.

    Sensing the threat, the electronics manufacturing industry's main representative body recently set up a lobbying arm that wrote directly to the government, vehemently opposing Apple's application.

    The maker of the world's most expensive smartphones had been stymied by low incomes and regulations.

    But selling cheaper refurbished devices can help convert price-sensitive consumers, who previously would have had to fork over a month's earnings or more to own the coveted brand.

    Apple now has less than 2 per cent of an Indian market in which four-fifths of phones cost less than US$150 (S$202).

    Western multinationals from carmakers to soda vendors use "India only" prices and cut-rate "India edition" products to woo customers.

    Apple cannot use those strategies without tarnishing its phone's premium aura.