New Delhi / Bloomberg
India has rejected Apple Inc.’s request to import and sell refurbished iPhones to the world’s second largest mobile population, dealing a blow to its plans to court price-conscious consumers there.
The US company’s application has been turned down, a telecommunications ministry official told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday, declining to be identified because of official policy. The decision — the second time the company has been refused by the government in as many years — involved several ministries as well as the Prime Minister’s Office.
Apple’s rivals had mounted a public campaign against the effort, arguing that such a move would trigger a flood of used electronics while defeating the government’s Make-in-India program to encourage local manufacturing.
The decision is a setback for Apple, which has just 2 percent of Indian phone sales but needs to tap new markets as global iPhone sales plateau. The U.S. company is also seeking permission to open its first Indian retail stores, key to driving its brand in a market dominated by local vendors. That decision is pending.
India is a challenging market because of the iPhone’s premium pricing but bringing in refurbished phones would have allowed Apple to attract the cost-conscious. The company typically doesn’t lower prices, to maintain its marquee image.