Apple is once again exploring the possibility of selling iPhones in India, according to a new report.
The tech giant has requested to start selling used iPhones in India, Bloomberg is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its talks with the Indian government. The company’s request reportedly says the smartphones will be refurbished in India and will adhere to all regulations imposed upon the sale of smartphones within the country.
India and Apple (AAPL) have been dancing around the possibility of a closer relationship for months. Last week, after holding talks about selling iPhones in India and expanding Apple’s role in the country, the country’s regional minister said Apple will begin production on iPhones in Bangalore by the end of April. Apple has not confirmed that’s the case, but has shown intensifying interest in expanding its presence in India.
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During several recent earnings calls, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared a vision for India, saying the country’s growing middle class could prove critical to his company’s long-term performance. His predictions have come amid declines in Apple’s China business—a problem that has caused some analysts and shareholders to wonder which international markets could make up for some of the lost Chinese revenue.
India, Cook has argued, could eventually be one of the biggest and most important economies in the world, and he believes Apple’s consumer appeal there could grow with its economy.
Cook’s comments are based in part on the Indian government’s increasing willingness to relax regulations and make it easier for international companies to operate in India. While those regulations are still in process and not yet as business-friendly as companies would like, they’ve prompted Apple and others to move quickly towards expanding their presence in the country.
Apple floated the possibility of selling used iPhones in India last year, but was met by objections from both Samsung and Indian smartphone manufacturer Micromax, which said the plan could cripple the Indian smartphone market. Apple, however, said that by selling used iPhones in the country, it could offer Indian customers an alternative to already available handsets at a price that would be far more affordable than a brand-new iPhone. Its efforts ultimately went nowhere.
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Obtaining the right to import and sell used iPhones in India would be a boon for Apple, but could also prove important for other companies. If it’s allowed to sell used iPhones in India, Apple would become the first technology company to bring its handsets to India and sell them within its borders. Other international companies, including Samsung (SSNLF), produce devices in India that are ultimately sold in the country. If Apple can sell its iPhones in India without manufacturing the handsets there, other companies could request the same opportunity.
However, that possibility was used against Apple’s request last year when critics said it could run afoul of the government’s “Make In India” initiative.
Apple has not commented on its plans for India and did not respond to a Fortune request for comment on the possibility of selling used iPhones in the country. However, Apple and the Indian government are expected to continue their talks and a decision on the used iPhones and other concerns, including tax breaks for Apple, could be settled in the coming months.