Outcry as Australians pay more on iPad mini than US consumers

While early impressions of Apple’s new iPad mini are positive, the price difference between the American and Australian versions of the gadget have once again raised the ire of tech fans sick of paying more for the same gadget even when the Aussie dollar is strong.

The iPad mini costs $US329 in the United States. Based on a direct conversion, the gadget should cost less here than the US and be priced at $A319, but will actually set Australian users back $A369.

It’s yet another example of how tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and, more recently, Adobe, are gouging Australian consumers for the same products, even when distributed digitally at no extra cost to the manufacturer.

But as Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi points out, it also puts Apple out of step with seven-inch tablet manufacturers which have priced their gadgets at or below $300.

“This is the important question,” he told SmartCompany this morning.

“Apple has left the door open to competitors here and the whole point of producing a miniature tablet device was to close the market down. It’s left things open to competitors aggressively producing tablets in this category with success.”

While Fadaghi says the issue of Apple pricing products above those in the United States has always been an issue, the more pressing concern is how it hopes to compete against tablets like the Google Nexus, which sells in Australia for under $300.

“Consumers are definitely annoyed by this, and that much is clear. It encourages them to buy tablets from overseas, and it’s unfortunate in Australia we don’t have better pricing in tech products.”

The issue of price differentials between the United States and Australia is critical to business, with SMEs depending on key software packages to get their companies up and running. As SmartCompany has shown, these price differences can have a massive impact on start-up costs.

Apple has so far declined to appear at the parliamentary inquiry initiated by federal MP Ed Husic into this topic. Husic was contacted for comment this morning, but a reply was not available before publication.

While the price difference for the iPad mini is small, it represents a key problem in the tech industry. The Productivity Commission said in its retail report last year arguments companies make to support these price differences are not convincing – especially when products are distributed digitally.

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