Well, it’s looking like the ‘i’ in iPhone won’t stand for IndiaPhone. Last year Apple launched this clever new sales gimmick called iPhone Upgrade Program. Pay a monthly fee, get a new iPhone every year.
Where do all the old iPhones go? Apparently, Apple had a plan for that and said plan’s name was, well, India. Here’s the deal. India is a huge country with more than a billion potential Apple customers. But iPhones are expensive in India. How can Apple reduce the price to make iPhones more affordable without making a cheap iPhone?
Refurbished Means ‘Used’
China is the world’s largest mobile device market, followed closely by India where the growing middle class speaks English, too, and many of them revere American made products (even if they’re made somewhere else; you know, like the iPhone). Sometime later this year Apple will have tens of millions of one-year-old iPhones as current customers upgrade using the iPhone Upgrade Program.
Where will all those old iPhones go? India. Or, maybe not. Apple made a formal request to import and sell the aforementioned refurbished iPhones and the country’s application was accepted, but the request was denied.
What happened? First, everyone else who sells a feature phone or smartphone in India complained. They sell new products very cheap and it just didn’t seem right that Apple would dump used iPhones to compete against new plastic phones. You see, India’s government wants India to make some of their own products and not be flooded with discarded technology from other countries.
Apple is a premium brand. The iPhone is a premium brand. Even old iPhones are premium used smartphones but it’s likely India’s government sees Apple’s initiative for what it is. A good way to get rid of all those refurbished iPhone Upgrade Program iPhones by pushing them as premium refurbished iPhones into a market that cannot really afford to buy many of the brand new iPhones.
That makes sense, right?
India represents a challenging market for Apple. They don’t even have an official Apple Store in India. Worse, the challenge goes deeper for Apple than just refurbished iPhones. The company’s flagship product has hit the wall, plateaued and then some, so Apple needs new markets. India is something of a new market and many smartphone customers there would love to upgrade their feature phones and Android knock-offs to become upwardly mobile and take a bite of the Apple, so to speak, but they can’t really afford Apple’s top of the line models.
Refurbished is just a classy word for used, and India’s government doesn’t seem to like the taste of Apple’s marketing scheme.
I understand Apple’s issues. They need to grow new markets. India is a new market. Apple has (or, will have soon) plenty of used iPhones to move someplace. People in India might appreciate less expensive iPhones, especially if they come with that classy English monicker, Refurbished. I guess India’s government officials just don’t understand exactly how kind and generous Apple is being to the country.