eXtensions - Saturday 15 October 2016

Cassandra: Hit piece on ASEAN iPhone Pricing - Some Fact-checking

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


On Saturday afternoon I responded to a Tweet that linked to an article by Jessica Tana on AEC News Today which stated that the iPhone would be sold for $1,000 more than in the USA. I knew this was not so as I had already begun examining prices of the iPhone 7, in anticipation of its arrival here later in the week.

As is often the case, the raw US prices that Apple quotes are compared back to back with the prices in other countries. I remember from bitter experience in the USA as a student in the 1980s, the price quoted in America is not the price one pays: taxes are added before you hand over the money.

iPhone 7
iPhone 7 - Image Courtesy of Apple

In many other countries, like the UK, Singapore and Thailand, the prices quoted already include taxes, so (particularly in the UK) will appear considerable higher. That is not the fault of the manufacturer; and in any case, consumers in the USA will also take a similar hit.

I looked that that $749 which was for the 128GB iPhone 7 and did a quick calculation then compared that with the price for an identical SIM-free iPhone with AIS (the prices for the carrier True are the same).

$749 = 25,540.90 + 7% (VAT) = 27,328.763

AIS price = 28,300 baht

The difference is just over 900 baht or about $23.

I put that in a Tweet and carried on with other things, but that $1340 quoted in the article bothered me, so later in the day I did a reverse calculation. $1340 is 47275.20 and taking off the 7% gives 44183.43, which is way higher than the 256 GB iPhone 7 Plus. That is priced at $969 in the USA and the AIS site has the same device at 39,500 baht (US price converted + 7% = 36579.36): 2921 baht over.

This figure still does not reach anything like the $1340 or 47275.20 baht that the article claimed, and by a considerable margin.

An examination of the Apple site for Singapore gives the price of the 128GB iPhone 7 as SG$1218 and that also includes a sales tax (GST) of 7%, so the price minus GST is SG$1138 or US$819. The price including GST of SG$1218 converts to US$876.65, around US$30 lower than the price cited in the article.

In Malysia, the 128GB iPhone 7 is shown as RM3699 (US$881) with a 6% GST making the base cost of the iPhone RM3489.62 (US$831), so the article-cited $900 again seems a little high.

For Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, prices in the article are cited as US$1023, US$1031 and US$1268 respectively. Prices on the Apple site are not shown so I cannot make comparisons.

Nonetheless, with the 3 examples I have been able to check, the high prices given are misleading and do not bear any relation to actual prices that will be charged by Apple and the carriers. These are shown on the official websites and are the prices that consumers will be paying in these countries.

What was the motivation for such an attempt at headline grabbing?

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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