Apple wants to sell used iPhones in India, industry opposes

After China, India is quickly becoming the mobile industry's next darling, with smartphone makers scrambling to make a dent in the market. However, just because India is pretty much still considered to be an emerging market doesn't meant it's going to settle for something less. The country already rejected Facebook's temptation of free Internet because it actually confined users to a Facebook-approved corner of the Web. Now industry players are moving to block Apple's application to import and sell used iPhones for fear that it could undermine the country's economy and environment in the long run.

At face value, Apple's idea might have some merit. Like China, India's smartphone market is inundated with devices that cost less than $100, even branded ones from the likes of Samsung. Naturally, Apple has a hard time penetrating that market with its premium price tags. Along with the cheaper iPhone SE, selling used iPhones could help Apple towards that goal and, at the same time, help consumers in India get a hold off an iPhone more easily.

Of course, that would endanger the businesses of local smartphone manufacturers. A lobbyist group made up of big industry players have written to government to oppose Apple's application. Their argument is that it would jeopardize local businesses, increase local electronic waste, and basically undo everything the government worked for in encouraging local manufacturing. That group includes companies like Micromax, Intex, and Samsung.

The "Make in India" program was launched in 2014 to help reduce reliance on electronics import and encourage local companies to manufacture their products within the country. So far, it has been successful and even the likes of Foxconn have considered taking steps to manufacture locally. The industry group says that relaxing the import rules for Apple's sake practically makes a mockery of that program.

In addition, Apple's proposal could practically turn India into a dumping ground, not just for second-hand smartphones but for electronic waste as well. Used smartphones, by nature, don't have pristine components. Batteries, in particular, often need replacement. The group says that India isn't particularly equipped to handle the toxic waste that is produced by destroyed smartphones and components.

This is actually the second time Apple applied for the import grant, but it is the first time it has been met with stronger and more vocal opposition. The government has yet to make a decision regarding the matter.

SOURCE: Bloomberg