The Really Mobile Project on an iPad

Stop complaining about UK iPad prices. They're fine.

by Ben Smith on 10th May 2010

iPad prices in the UK are not excessive compared to US pricing. If you want to whine about ‘rip-off Britain’ you’ll need to find some other reason to do it. I suggest you pop over to the Daily Mail* where you’ll find an equal number of other clueless people.

* No, I’m not linking there.

OK… before I go any further I need to apologise… This is a rant. I’ve given up trying to be reasonable and balanced on this. It’s just that this cycle has become tediously predictable with every international Apple product launch:

Apple announcement » Excitement » US launch » Prices in £ » Complaining…

My argument is simple: when excluding sales tax from the price of the iPad the difference in cost between US dollars and UK pounds sterling is:

  1. so small as not to be worthy of comment; and
  2. reasonably explained by normal exchange-rate fluctuations.

Don’t confuse this with a completely separate argument – whether the iPad (or any Apple hardware) is value for money – that is completely subjective.

Here are the numbers taken from the US and UK Apple Stores today:

iPad PricesThose figures are based on today’s Google-provided exchange rate of £1 = $1.48 (that link is a live figure so it will vary). The average difference is 5.8% in favour of the US. However, according to the BBC the fluctuations between the pound and the dollar has been around 15% in the past 12 months. There certainly is a price difference, but still think it’s a big swindle?

It’s certainly true that the price differences there are between UK and US prices varies between Apple’s products, but they all follow this pattern and (for lower value goods) are normally more driven by rounding to the nearest suitable sales price. Now, stop complaining and get to your local airport’s duty free. With the price controls Apple insist on for their products they are genuinely cheaper there than even the best retailers’ discounts.

If you really want to complain about the main source of actual price difference, write to your MP about lowering VAT or just ask your shop not to include it on the sticker-price. The latter option’s far more likely for the next 20 years of government borrowing repayment

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