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India to accelerate product safety approvals, Apple, Samsung likely to benefit


NEW DELHI, Sept 2 – India will try a parallel testing strategy to speed up safety approvals for new electronic devices, an industry group told Reuters on Friday, a move that could boost plans to bring devices from companies such as Samsung ( 005930.KS ) and Apple ( AAPL.O )

The move comes as India seeks to remove barriers to business and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trumpeting an electronics hardware industry that the government targets to be worth $300 billion by 2026.

The plan to simultaneously test various device components appears to cut five to eight weeks from the 16 to 21 weeks now often needed to test and certify products ranging from wireless headphones to smartphones.

“For industry, this is directly linked to ease of doing business; for consumers, it will lead to faster access to the latest products,” the MAIT group said in a statement.

Its members include companies such as Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi ( 1810.HK ), along with global and domestic firms operating in India’s electronics, telecommunications and IT sectors.

To reduce the time required, the group added that the testing agency, Bureau of Indian Standards, “has agreed to a pilot project where some identified electronic hardware products will undergo parallel testing”.

Management says India’s cumbersome testing process can take 16 weeks for Apple’s new AirPods, for example, because the charging case and its components must first secure clearance before the earphones can be assessed.

For a smartphone and its parts, the procedure could take up to 21 weeks on average.

The pilot decision followed a closed-door meeting on Wednesday between officials from India’s IT ministry, BIS, MAIT and executives from companies such as Apple and Samsung, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi did not immediately respond to requests for comment. BIS and the IT ministry also did not immediately respond to queries from Reuters.

The headphones will be the first devices likely to undergo faster testing, with the government deciding on other products later, MAIT said.

Faster safety and quality reviews by authorities will boost India’s competitiveness in electronics, said Prabhu Ram, head of the Industry Intelligence Group at CyberMedia Research.

“For Indian consumers, this move will significantly reduce the wait time to get access to the latest products,” added Ram, who advises technology companies in India.

The security testing requirement by BIS applies to all electronic products in India, whether imported or domestically manufactured.

The move will be a blow to the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung, which sell the majority of smartphones in India and have a combined market share of 46%, as well as Apple, which lags behind Samsung in the premium category, data from research firm Kontrapunkt shows.

While India’s boAt leads the wireless earphones market in India, Apple is the market leader for the premium variants, the data showed.

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