Early last month we reported that Apple was planning to sell refurbished iPhones in India and had submitted a formal request to the country's government in order to allow it to begin importing pre-owned iPhones into the country.
This morning, however, news has surfaced that major smartphone makers in the Indian market including Samsung, Karbonn, Micromax and Intex are actively opposing Apple's move on environmental grounds.
According to Bloomberg, phone manufacturers argue that elevated electronic waste levels could threaten the viability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program, which promotes and encourages local manufacturing. Critics argue that destroying the phones produces toxic materials that could harm the country's precarious ecological balance, which is already struggling to deal with a massive e-waste problem.
The opposition came in a letter sent to the Indian government by a lobbying group recently set up by India's Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA). In the letter, manufacturers argued that allowing the sale of used iPhones in India would not only negatively impact the environment, but it would also go against the country's importation policy.
"Why even consider allowing import of used phones when import of other used goods such as cars are precluded by 300 percent duty levies?" asked Ravinder Zutshi, chairman of the newly formed Mobile and Communications Council, which issued the letter.
Apple’s initial application in 2015 was rejected by the environment ministry. The company's latest application has gone to "inter-ministerial discussion", leaving its outcome uncertain, according to the report. If approved, India would be the first territory with used iPhones to be sold directly from Apple.
Earlier in February, Apple was said to be close to opening its own retail locations within India, after having to rely on an "Authorized Mobility Resellers" program due to the country's strict real estate and zoning laws.
In December of last year, Apple cut the prices of its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus handsets in India by up to 16 percent, following a reported dive in sales. The move quickly followed Apple's decision to halve the price of iPhone 5s, from 45,500 Rupees ($688) to 24,999 Rupees ($377).
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently praised India's business environment and stated that the company is putting increasingly more energy into the country, which has the third largest smartphone market in the world, behind China and the U.S.
Apple has less than 2 percent of the market, in which four-fifths of phones cost less than $150. Branded smartphones are available for as little as $35 in India, yet less than one third of the population uses them.