Apple's devices are still cheaper in Japan

In the wake of the weaker yen, the company has increased the prices of its gadgets in the country yet they remain lower than in the US.

By Benzinga May 31, 2013 4:11PM

International currencies © Brand X/SuperStockBy Louis Bedigian

In the wake of a weakening yen (which has fallen more than 20% against the U.S. dollar since last November), some companies have decided to raise their prices in Japan.

Tiffany (TIF) was one of the first to raise its prices. German automaker Volkswagen (VLKAY) followed suit.

According to Reuters, now Apple (AAPL) has raised the prices of several iDevices in Japan.

Up until Friday, Japanese customers could buy a fourth-generation iPad with 64GB of storage for 58,800 yen (roughly $584.82) -- more than $110 cheaper than the price of the same device in America. Apple now charges 69,800 yen ($694.23) for the device, which is still a few dollars cheaper than the American version, which retails for $699.

Similarly, Reuters reported that the 128GB iPad previously retailed for 66,800 yen ($664.39) -- far less than the $799 price tag that accompanies the product in America. Now it retails for 79,800 yen ($793.69).

This was a common trend among the price increases that occurred this week. Apple increased the various iPad Mini models by as much 8,000 yen ($79.57). As a result, the iPad Mini prices in Japan now closely resemble the American MSRP. The same can be said for the iPod Touch.

While Japanese customers may be appalled by the price hike, they may not be the only group of customers that are upset by this development. American shoppers may now wonder why they were paying more for most iDevices until today.

Chinese customers may wonder the same thing. In China -- the place where all iDevices are manufactured -- the full-size 16GB iPad starts at 3,688 yuan ($601.17). In Brazil, which is expected to become one of Apple's biggest emerging markets behind China, the iPad starts R$1,749 (roughly $821 U.S.).

There are legal, regulatory and distribution-related hurdles that can cause the price to vary from nation to nation. This is especially true for Brazil.

According to a December 2010 report by Bloomberg's Cecilia Tornaghi and Lucia Kassai, "The iPad is one example of the many price distortions caused by Brazil's elaborate industrial policy. Companies that don't manufacture goods in Brazil have to pay stiff tariffs if they want to sell to the nation's consumers. Brazil levies a 60% tax on the iPad and as much as 90% on imported cars."

While Apple received certification to sell Brazilian-assembled iPads in the nation, and while the price has fallen more than $160 since 2010, the tablet is still far more expensive in Brazil than it is in the U.S.

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