Apple wants Indian government to relax product labelling

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India iPhone sales
There is another sticking point in Apple's India expansion.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has a new demand for the Indian government as it barters about stepping up its investment in the country: getting rid of the detailed product information it is asked to print onto its devices — thereby cluttering its minimalist design.

Apple recently made the request to the country’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which forwarded the message to the Department of Revenue and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY) for consideration. No response has yet been issued.

What’s not clear from the report, courtesy of the Economic Times, is whether this is something Apple currently has to do for devices sold in India, or whether (and this seems more likely) it would only come into being if Apple starts manufacturing in India, as it is said to be planning. (If you live in India and/or can shed some light on this, leave a comment below.)

Manufacturing in India has been an increasingly popular topic as of late. It could prove a net positive for both Apple and India: the former because it could help mitigate the accelerating wage inflation in China where the majority of Apple’s devices are made, and the latter because foreign investment in India will help create jobs and boost the economy.

Apple suppliers Pegatron and Foxconn have both previously investigated building manufacturing plants in India, with the latter planning 10-12 facilities for development in India by 2020.

Tim Cook visited India for the first time back in May, during which time he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Apple has also announced its plans to invest $25 million in a new office complex in India, while additionally planning to open a new office in Indian tech hub Hyderabad that will focus on improving Apple Maps.

However, so far Apple has had a tough time establishing itself in India, despite its popularity at the high end of the smartphone market. In particular, Apple has had to battle for the rights to open official Apple Stores in India, while a plan to import used iPhones into the country was shot down by a group of rival handset makers.

Most recently, Apple reportedly clashed with the Indian government over plans to force foreign smartphone makers — Apple included — to bake in Indian-developed biometric technology, designed to allow users to access a range of public and private services, such as banking.

The demands that Apple would be exempt from cluttering up its beautifully minimalist designs with unnecessary writing is very believable. As I’ve written before, during Steve Jobs’ reign as CEO at Apple the company refused to print products with a special code so they could be recycled because the marks were less than attractive.

Apple is also said to be seeking financial incentives to move its manufacturing to India.