Apple Wants to Sell Refurbished iPhones in India – Are We Ready?

Apple wants to sell its refurbished iPhone in India, and we see if the Indian market is ready for it. 

Refurbished products cannot be called used products. 
Experts have suggested that these are not a danger to the environment. 

Apple’s recent sales figures suggest that iPhone’s popularity in markets like the US and Europe is wearing thin. This has forced the company to look beyond its comfort zones and focus on a country like India, which quite frankly has gone under their radar all these years.

When you consider that India’s mobile penetration has not even reached 20 percent of its potential, it’s no wonder that Apple is doing its best to find more suitors for its pricey products. Which is why it is putting all its eggs in one basket and trying to get the Indian government’s sanction to sell refurbished iPhones in the country.

Easier said than done. Apple’s charm offensive in the country comes at a point when we all know what they’re really after. So, even with a supposed bank balance of $233 billion, Apple wants to keep filling its coffers, primarily with India as its focus.

Before We Get to It...

Refurbished phones are basically treated as used phones by Indian consumers and we can hardly blame them for thinking along those lines. However, in Apple’s case, their refurbished iPhone model has been well-received in markets like the US and certain parts of the Europe.

Unlike buying a used iPhone from a friend or a third-party, Apple gives you a one-year warranty on the purchase of a refurbished iPhone, which costs way less than what you’d pay for a new one.

On average, buying a 64GB refurbished unlocked iPhone 5S will cost you around $400 (Rs 24,800 approx) in the US. 
The reality of the refurbished phone market in the US. (Photo Courtesy: Amazon screengrab)
The reality of the refurbished phone market in the US. (Photo Courtesy: Amazon screengrab)

For the same price, you can pick up the OnePlus 2 (64GB) or the Xiaomi Mi 5 (32GB non-expandable) in the country. But comparing an iPhone with a Mi 5 is kind of an apples vs oranges scenario.

Some Facts In Favour of Refurbished Phones

State of refurbished market in country like the United States. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>/Rahul Gupta/Facts: Gartner)&nbsp;
State of refurbished market in country like the United States. (Photo: The Quint/Rahul Gupta/Facts: Gartner) 

Rumour Has It

While most of us expect Apple to make its iPhone in India soon, truth be told, it makes far more sense for them to sell refurbished iPhones instead. Many users are attracted to used high-end devices that they would not have been able to purchase at the original selling price – this is where Apple’s refurbished sales model could work like a charm in India.

Want to know the funny part? The Indian government, along with brands like Samsung and Micromax among others, wouldn’t want Apple to eat into their affordable mobile space. For instance, if Apple gets to sell the refurbished iPhone in the country, most people who have always aspired to buy an iPhone will finally get their wish.

Consumers will always find a high-end smartphone like the iPhone attractive and buy it because now they can afford it.

The power of lobbying has ensured that Apple’s plan to sell iPhones at a lower price point hasn’t come to fruition. But we think it’s a matter of time before the government caves in to market demands.

Who Buys Premium Smartphones in India?

The number of people buying phones above Rs 30,000 is negligible right now. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>/Rahul Gupta/Facts: Gartner)&nbsp;
The number of people buying phones above Rs 30,000 is negligible right now. (Photo: The Quint/Rahul Gupta/Facts: Gartner) 

The Indian mobile space is predominantly driven by demand for phones in the sub Rs 10,000 category. No wonder the 30K space is merely filling up the space with brands like Apple, Samsung and Sony keeping things relevant.

So, will buyers finally look at an iPhone under Rs 25,000 (as it sells in the US) and say yes? Chances are, most of us would.

We have found that 60 percent of consumers are replacing their smartphones because they are interested in additional functionality, or they “just want” a new device 
Hitendra Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO, Greendust

Brands like Greendust can fetch more money by dealing in the iPhone than, say, an Intex or a Micromax phone (no disrespect to them). Even a company like Karma Recycling buys the iPhone for more money than a Samsung, which clearly highlights the shelf life of the Apple product.

And Finally

So, we come to the point: Is India ready to buy a refurbished iPhone? Looking at how things stand as of now, Apple’s best chance to touch a 200-million customer base is via the refurbished channel. Will Indian consumers buy a 2015 iPhone 6 16GB for Rs 28,000? They just might, which is why the prospect of a refurbished iPhone sold in India is merely acting up as a political stance right now.

Hopefully, Apple and the ministry involved can come up with a solution to sell refurbished iPhones in the foreseeable future. More than Apple, it will be Indians who will be happy to finally own a product they’ve always wanted.