In India, the world's second-biggest smartphone market, Apple Inc's normally deft management of government relations is being put to a fresh high-stakes test.
For almost two years, Apple has battled India's telecom regulator over a demand that it allow the use of the government's anti-spam app. Non-compliance, the watchdog threatened last month, could result in phones being “derecognized” from the country's networks, meaning they would no longer function.
It is just one of several headaches the Cupertino, California-based company is nursing in India - a market it calls a top priority but where it has just 1 percent share.
Apple has not gotten the tax breaks it has sought for suppliers to expand local manufacturing - key if it is to avoid steep import duties that have made its iPhones, already pricey for many Indian consumers, even more expensive.
Local content prerequisites have also stopped the US tech giant from opening its own stores. The lack of direct sales channels has helped make it vulnerable to discounting and prompted it to recently embark on a major overhaul of its retail strategy.
At the heart of its latest tussle with the government is India's pervasive problem with spam and nuisance calls - one the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is trying to counter with an app that it wants all phone makers to install.
The new version of its iPhone operating system, expected in autumn, will allow many of the app's functions but not fully automatic spam filtering as that functionality could open the door to Apple users being tracked by third parties, Apple said in a letter to regulators.
TRAI, however, last month notified Indian telecom firms it could give them six months notice to “derecognize” devices from their networks if the devices do not support anti-spam apps that are approved by the government.
In the letter, dated June 18 and responding to a draft of the proposed notification, Apple asked for the clause about derecognition to be dropped.
“We look forward to working with TRAI to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communications, while simultaneously ensuring that we fully honor our commitment to protect the privacy and security of our users,” Apple's head of public policy in India, Kulin Sanghvi, wrote in the letter which was seen by Reuters.