NEW DELHI: India’s telecom regulator and Apple have likely reached an understanding to end a dispute over the US smartphone maker’s reluctance to support the watchdog’s do-not-disturb (DND) app on its devices.
A middle ground appears to have been found with Apple set to include about 75% of the features that are on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s DND app in its new operating system to be launched in September.
“Consumers of mobiles and smartphones should be able to complain about unsolicited commercial communications. It is not necessary that Trai’s DND app is allowed – any operating system can develop their own application,” Trai Chairman RS Sharma said.
The regulator is not concerned about one particular app, Sharma said. Trai is working with companies to resolve the issues and none of them is “unsurmountable,” he said.
He had asserted that the handset maker should have no right to prevent users from disclosing their data to anyone of their choice. Last month, the regulator said all handsets makers must support Trai’s DND app and other similar ones or risk being barred by telcos after six months. Apple was open to legally challenging the order, especially as company officials had had several meetings to explain the features of iOS 12 and resolve the issue.
The features on latest iOS include Message Filter app extension, which determines whether a message is unsolicited or otherwise unwanted. The operating system will allow users to block and report numbers, register, modify or de-register a customer’s preferences with the operator and even file plaints with the access provider. “These features will take care of what Trai wants – to check unwanted calls and messages,” people familiar with the matter said.
For Apple, a resolution of this matter will remove an overhang on the company in a key market where its share in the premium smartphone segment has declined.
“A truce is important because India remains the fastest-growing smartphone market and a very important one for the next five-seven years, since headroom to grow is huge. However, knowing Apple and its privacy policies, it will not give in to any one government’s demands,” said Navkendar Singh, associate research director at IDC India and South Asia.