Apple’s woes in India: A timeline of the iPhone maker’s turbulent journey in the country

Apple’s woes in India: A timeline of the iPhone maker’s turbulent journey in the country
Representational image.Unsplash
  • The iPhone maker has had its fair share of troubles in India, some of its own doing, and others of its partners.
  • With Made in India iPhones now accounting for 70% of Apple’s India sales, India is an important market for the Cupertino-based company.
  • Here’s a look back at some of the major issues that Apple has faced in India recently.
The Indian market has long been called a bit of a thorn in Apple’s ambitions in Asia, thanks to a combination of lower disposable incomes, high prices of Apple products, a highly price-sensitive market and a highly competitive market landscape thanks to plenty of affordable Android smartphones.

India has often been called a lost opportunity for Apple for various reasons, but the recent Make in India push that offered incentives to smartphone makers, among others, to manufacture their products in India, has put the country back in Apple’s focus. According to a report, every 7 out of 10 iPhones sold in the country are made in India.

But the iPhone maker has had less than smooth sailing in the country so far. Here’s a timeline of Apple’s woes in India:

2020: Wistron

Wistron, one of Apple’s partners engaged in assembling iPhones in India, was caught in a flare up in late 2020, with thousands of its contract employees alleged unfair salary deductions and late payments.

The fiasco forced Apple to put Wistron on probation, which subsequently led to the assembler firing its top official. Both Apple and Wistron admitted to lapses in salary and wage payments, blaming it on a “software glitch”.

Wistron also filed a police complaint against 7,000 people after a spate of violence that allegedly resulted in a loss of INR 437 due to stolen iPhones and damaged property.

Wistron also assembles products for Microsoft and Lenovo.

Weeks later, Apple and independent auditors were said to be working to improve processes and undertake corrective steps to avoid such an issue from cropping up again.

2021: Foxconn

Exactly a year later, another iPhone assembler, Foxconn, is at the centre of Apple’s woes in India. This time, Apple put Foxconn on probation following reports of food poisoning that affected 250 women employees.

Apple issued a statement saying that the Sri Perumbudur facility would be allowed to reopen after ensuring strict standards are in place and are being followed.

The iPhone maker said it has sent independent auditors to check the dormitories and living conditions, adding that it will implement corrective actions immediately.

2021: Anti-trust suit over in-app payments

A less-known non-profit group “Together We Fight Society” filed an anti-trust complaint against Apple for taking a 30% cut from iOS app and game developers.

The group that filed the case suggests that Apple’s 30% commission acts as a barrier for app developers while also hurting customers.

"These payments and policies act as a hindrance for many developers due to which they never make it to the market," said Rakesh Deshmukh, co-founder of Indus App Bazaar, an Indian alternative app store.

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