Apple may try again to sell used iPhones in India

The Indian government shot down Apple's proposal the last time around, but it's reportedly not giving up.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read

People line up for the new iPhone 7 in October in New Delhi, India.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Apple apparently isn't giving up on selling used iPhones in India.

The electronics giant, during negotiations with the India government over starting iPhone manufacturing in the country, has asked to import used iPhones to be refurbished and sold in India, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company has said "it will have the manufacturing infrastructure needed to make them compliant with quality standards," the publication said, citing an unnamed source.

The request is one of many concessions Apple has requested of the Indian government before it opens a manufacturing facility, Bloomberg said. Apple has also asked for a 15-year tax holiday.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

As iPhone sales slow in places like the US and Western Europe, Apple has looked to new places like India as its next leg of growth. The company sold 2.5 million iPhones in India in 2016, according to Counterpoint Research. During the December quarter, Apple ranked No. 10 in terms of phone sales, but it was the leader in the premium-phone space ($450 and up), responsible for 62 percent of sales in that market. For comparison, the company's global iPhone sales reached a record 78.3 million for its fiscal first quarter, which ended in December.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said Apple posted all-time record revenue results in India during that period.

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"I feel really good about how we're doing there," he said. "We are in discussions on a number of things, including retail stores, and fully intend to invest significantly in the country and believe it's a great place to be."

Apple last year tried to get approval to sell used iPhones in the country, something that would help it sell cheaper devices to a country with a gross national income per person of about $1,600 in 2015, according to the World Bank. The iPhone 7 starts at $650, but the vast majority of smartphones sold in the world's second most populous nation have a price tag under $150.

A year ago, the Indian government officially rejected Apple's proposal to sell refurbished phones in the country. "We are not in favor of any company selling used phones in the [country], however certified they may be," Nirmala Sitharaman, India's commerce and industry minister, said at the time.

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