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Despite opposition, Apple hopeful of selling pre-owned iPhones in India

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said the company has "not closed the option" of selling certified pre-owned iPhones in India.

Cook said in a recent Hindu Business Line interview that he is hoping to get the go-ahead from the Indian government to sell the affordable iPhones in the country.

Earlier in 2017, India had rejected Apple's request to sell certified refurbished iPhones in the country following opposition within and outside government.

The Indian ministries of environment and industry said such a move could make India a dumping ground for second-hand phones and may pose environmental risks.

Apple, however, claimed that its certified refurbished phones go through a testing process and include a one-year warranty.

Industry bodies such as the Mobile and Communications Council opposed the move, saying that allowing import of such phones would dent local manufacturing.

"When the government is creating Make in India to reduce imports, and a lot of mobile manufacturers are coming into the country, how can we have imports of refurbished phones by any brand, not just Apple," said Ravinder Zutshi, chairman of the Mobile and Communications Council.

Answering a question on whether Apple has a plan B for making iPhones more affordable, Cook insisted that certified pre-owned phones "will be good for India."

"It is a programme that is widely used in the U.S., all throughout Europe and almost every country where we sell. We just have to do a better job of explaining it and talking about the advantages," he told the newspaper.

With the U.S. maturing as a smartphone market and Apple's iPhone sales in China slowing down, Cook has earmarked India as a key market. The company has started assembling and selling the affordable iPhone SE in India.

The move was significant since rival Samsung Electronics dominates India's premium phone market. Samsung retained its top position in the premium phone segment in the second quarter with a 55% market share, followed by Apple at 30%, according to a report by market analysis firm Counterpoint Research.

However, growth in the segment in India was mostly flat, the report said.

On the other hand, the affordable mid-range segment was the fastest-growing smartphone market in India, the report said, growing at 15% year over year — making it an appealing market for all mobile players.