India’s telecommunications ministry has reportedly blocked U.S. manufacturer Apple’s request to bring refurbished iPhones to the growing mobile market there.
According to Bloomberg, the rejection marks the second time Apple’s efforts to sell used iPhones in India have been stymied. The country’s environmental ministry blocked a similar request in 2015.
The application was part of Apple’s attempt to gain a foothold in the price-sensitive Indian market, which is on track to become the second-largest smartphone market. The denial serves a blow to Apple, which is looking to boost iPhone figures in the wake of its first sales decline in more than a decade.
In the fourth quarter 2015, International Data Corporation (IDC) reported approximately 60 percent of smartphone vendors in India were either domestic or based in China. Just 37 percent of the Indian smartphone market share was held by global vendors. Part of this heavy dependence on domestic vendors stems from the country’s “Make in India” campaign to encourage local manufacturing.
In terms of market share by brand, Samsung leads the pack in India with 26.8 percent, followed by Micromax with 14.1 percent, Lenovo with 11.6 percent, Intex with 9.4 percent and Lava with 7 percent.
According to IDC, smartphone shipments to India – which totaled 25.6 million units in the fourth quarter 2015 and 103.6 million for the full year 2015 – are expected to grow at double digit rates this year despite a wider slowdown across the industry.
In a recent interview on CNBC’s Mad Money, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company still has “a lot of work to do” in India, but pointed to the fact that Apple grew 56 percent in India on iPhone units in the last quarter.
Cook said India’s push to roll out LTE this year presents a “huge market potential” for Apple and other makers of 4G devices, and said the company is “really putting energy in India.”
As part of its effort to sell more iPhones in India, Apple is also reportedly seeking to open its first retail stores in the country.