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India’s push for USB-C chargers could derail Apple’s production plans, report says

Apple iPhone lightning charger

American multinational tech major Apple has reportedly raised concerns with the Indian government about meeting local production targets as a result of the country’s proposal to adopt a European Union-style mandate for universal USB-C charging ports for all smartphones, including existing iPhone models.

According to a Reuters report, during a confidential meeting on November 28, chaired by India’s IT ministry, Apple representatives requested an exemption for current iPhone models from the new rules. They cautioned that adherence to these regulations for older models would hinder Apple’s ability to meet the production targets set under India’s Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.

India, aiming to align with the European Union’s strategy, plans to implement a rule mandating smartphones to feature a universal USB-C charging port. The proposed regulation in India is scheduled for introduction by June 2025, just six months following the EU’s deadline. While major manufacturers like Samsung have reportedly agreed to comply with India’s plan, Apple is advocating for an exemption or a delay in implementation for its existing iPhone models.

Historically, Apple’s iPhones have been equipped with a proprietary lightning connector port, distinct from the USB-C standard. Apple’s concerns stem from the design limitations of its older iPhone models, which are not equipped with the USB-C port. The company highlighted that changing the design of these existing models is not feasible.

Meanwhile, the news comes at a time when Apple has increased manufacturing in India in recent times, a strategic move to diversify its production base, tap into a growing market, and reduce risks associated with over-reliance on a single manufacturing hub in China. The iPhone maker’s production in the country has been on an upward trajectory. The report, citing analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, noted that 12-14% of iPhone production in 2023 will originate from India, potentially increasing to 25% by next year. This production impasse, if unresolved, could significantly affect Apple’s expansion plans in India, considering its next major growth market following China.

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