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Customer biggest loser if Apple not allowed to sell used iPhones in India

Sahil Mohan Gupta
Sahil Mohan GuptaMay 05, 2016 | 14:08

Customer biggest loser if Apple not allowed to sell used iPhones in India

Apple’s plans to sell refurbished iPhones in India have reportedly been stopped in their tracks, as a Bloomberg report claims that the environment ministry has rejected the request.

According to the report, the ministry fears it would increase electronic waste (e-waste) in the country. This notion is misplaced because refurbished phones are already sold through third parties like ReGlobe and so on.

Additionally, Apple’s plan for refurbished iPhones isn't a straightforward attempt to offer an old iPhone for a lesser price. Let me explain:

1. The most important thing to note is that Apple is going to take a different approach to standard refurbishment practices. Apple will only reuse parts from old iPhones that are in an optimum condition and marry them with new components.

Apple will do this in its own factories, and not via third parties. For this, in the immediate future, Apple will import the phones in India and for the long-term, it is likely to set up facilities for the same, which means it will benefit the "Make in India" initiative.

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Apple is one of the most responsible companies when it comes to environment.

2. Apple has already provided a glimpse of how environment friendly a company it is. At the iPhone SE keynote, the company introduced the world to Liam - a robot the company has created to recycle old iPhones. So, the government shouldn't be fretting over e-waste.

Apple is one of the most responsible companies when it comes to environment. It is highly unlikely that it will disregard the environment for the sake of profits.

3. Refurbished phones are already available through third parties. Websites like ReGlobe help in unofficially refurbishing phones, so the government is promoting unofficial channels, which are likely to be of a lower quality than what Apple is proposing with its official programme. It is unfair on Apple.

4. Apple is actually calling this refurbishment programme - the certified pre-owned iPhone programme.

As a part of this programme, you’re actually getting a phone with a new IEMI number and the same warranty as a brand new iPhone. No refurbishment plan allows for this. Essentially, Apple is offering a new iPhone for less.

5. A cheaper iPhone is likely to be a better phone than a similarly priced Android phone. The consumer is the winner because Apple’s surgical precision with hardware of its products ensures that users are getting the best hardware in terms of quality and performance married with custom software.

On the iPhone SE too, Apple uses the A9 processor which is widely recognised as the best mobile processor. A refurbished iPhone will also have the same processor.

The difference here is that only Apple designs the A9 processor, while on Android, the processor and other components are commoditised as they are used in an array of phones and tablets, which can result in lower quality or poor levels of quality control.

6. Apple is also known to provide the best customer care to its users. If Apple produces a cheaper iPhone — even if it is refurbished, local brands will have to match Apple’s quality of after-sales.

Even if local phone brands manage to match Apple in terms of hardware, matching Apple’s level of after-sales will be hard for them. That’s why all these brands are lobbying against Apple’s plan to introduce refurbished iPhones in India.

If Apple is denied this opportunity, the Indian customer is denied a higher quality of after-sales, which is a big problem with the consumer electronics industry in India.

7. Lastly, if Apple sells recycled iPhones in India, it is actually going to reduce the e-waste, so the environment ministry’s arguments are illogical.

Last updated: May 05, 2016 | 14:20
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