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New Zealanders pay almost the same price as everyone else for Apple computers. That’s not the case with PCs. That changes the way some of us think about buying and choosing devices. 

Writing at The Guardian, Jack Schofield tells a UK reader an Apple MacBook is an expensive choice for working from home.

It is. He says:

“The cheapest Windows 10 laptops cost around £130, which compares with £749 for the cheapest MacBook Air.”

Apple computer customers pay a premium. That’s universal. We know that.

Yet the size of the Apple premium over other brands depends on where you live. In New Zealand, the price gap between Apple and its rivals is lower.

Lenovo, HP less expensive

Schofield names the Lenovo Ideapad 100s and the HP Stream 11 as two of the least expensive Windows laptops in the UK.

When a Stream 11 or Ideapad 100s is £130 and a MacBook Air is £749, the British can buy almost six of the low-cost Windows laptops for the same price as one MacBook.

In New Zealand the ratio between Apple and low-cost Windows laptops is lower.

New Zealand PC prices

At NZ$1600, Apple’s cheapest MacBook Air still costs much more than a basic Windows laptop. You can buy an HP Stream 11 here for NZ$500 — the price is now higher than when I reviewed it. Shop around and you’ll find Lenovo Ideapad 100s prices start at NZ$450.

Which means a New Zealand buyer can get 3.2 low-cost HP Stream 11 laptops for the price of a MacBook Air. Or 3.5 Lenovo Ideapads.

In both cases the New Zealand ratio is more favourable to Apple than the UK example in The Guardian.

The Guardian story points out bargain basement Windows laptops are not a good idea for most people.

Mark-up

Schofield goes on to mention other, more suitable Windows laptops. Not all of them are on sale in New Zealand. Yet in every case where you can compare, New Zealanders pay a lower premium if they choose to buy a MacBook Air instead.

By the time you get to the upmarket Windows laptops Schofield mentions in his The Guardian story, some sell for more in New Zealand than the cost of a MacBook Air.

So while Apple Macs are expensive choices sold at a premium price in New Zealand, the premium we pay for Apple product is not as high here as it is overseas. [1]

Perception, reality

This alters our perception. What we see as a bit more expensive is a lot more expensive in the UK.

There is an unpleasant side to this. In an ideal world we could write about computers without worrying about snob value. Human nature makes that impossible.

In the UK, someone paying five times as much for an Apple laptop gets to flaunt their wealth more than a New Zealander paying three times as much. This nonsense matters to some people.

And that’s where this leads us: perception and reality. New Zealand computer buyers see the Apple MacBook in a different light to UK buyers because, when it comes to PC prices, we live in a different reality.


  1. This hasn’t always been the case. In the past New Zealanders had to pay many times the US price for some Mac models.  ↩

Apple iPhone SE

New Zealand consumers often pay more than their overseas counterparts for hardware.

In recent years Apple has done a better job than most rivals when it comes to reducing the gap between New Zealand and US prices. How do the Apple iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro measure up?

Apple iPhone SE price compared NZ US
Apple iPhone SE NZ and US prices compared — click to enlarge

There are two iPhone SE models. The 16GB phone sells in New Zealand for NZ$750. The same phone sells in the US for US$400. At today’s exchange rate of 1.48 and taking GST into account, New Zealanders pay a 10 premium over US prices.

The premium for a 64GB iPhone SE is 12 percent.

New Zealand prices for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro are close to US prices. At the time of writing the premiums paid in New Zealand are between three and four percent.

Given the New Zealand dollar fluctuates, this is close to parity.

IRD inland revenue department tax

Writing at the New Zealand Herald Matt Nippert says Top multinationals pay almost no tax in New Zealand.

A major Herald investigation has found the 20 multinational companies most aggressive in shifting profits out of New Zealand overall paid virtually no income tax, despite recording nearly $10 billion in annual sales to Kiwi consumers.

The analysis of financial information of more than 100 multinational corporations and their New Zealand subsidiaries showed that, had the New Zealand branches of these 20 firms reported profits at the same healthy rate as their parents, their combined income tax bill would have been nearly $490 million.

Big companies not paying tax may be legal, it isn’t moral. They shuffle profits to countries with low taxes so they can avoid paying for the taxpayer-funded infrastructure and social spending that made them rich in the first place.

Two tax avoiding tech giants Facebook and Google grew wealthy on the back of the internet.

It was originally paid for by taxpayers in countries like the USA and the UK. The internet wouldn’t exist without taxpayers, nor would Google or Facebook.

Apple grew into one of the world’s largest businesses on the back of the iPhone.

Yet for much of its history, Apple mainly sold computers. A large number of those sales were to schools. It depended on government funded education to keep it afloat during the lean years.

Without taxes, there would be no Facebook, Google or Apple.

Large countries like the USA, UK and even medium-size ones like Australia have moved to close the loopholes allowing multinationals to avoid taxes. New Zealand has less room for manoeuvre.

In the long-term our best chance of dealing with the problem is by taking part in international initiatives.

In the meantime, there is something we can do. We could insist government purchasers only buy from the companies who pay their fair share of tax.

Sure, fair share is a debatable and nebulous term. The less than one percent paid by some companies on Nippert’s list is not fair.

Not buying from tax avoiders would mean no more government purchased iPhones, no government Google Apps accounts, no government advertisements on Facebook.

At least not until they pay up.

Not taking this approach amounts to rewarding bad behaviour.

This morning mail from Dick Smith arrived in my in-box.

You may think: “Nothing unusual there”. After all, many people who subscribed to the Dick Smith mailing list will have had the same message.

Dick Smith
Dick Smith

Yet, I didn’t subscribe to anything from Dick Smith.

Dick Smith’s receivers sent the message to an address I haven’t used since I left Australian in 2004.

While I never signed up to any mailing list, I did give my address to a sales person in a store in Sydney many, many years ago.

At the time, I wanted to buy something that wasn’t in stock. The salesperson asked me to leave an email address and phone number so the store could let me when it had stock.

He assured me the address would not be used for marketing purposes. It was only then that I agreed to hand it over.

This was so long ago I forgot what the product was.

To its credit, the old Dick Smith organisation kept its word through at least two changes of ownership. I just checked that old account. There have been no other communications from Dick Smith.

Yet my address has stayed on the database for at least 12 years. I wasn’t even aware it was there. And the receivers sold it without my consent.

I suspect this is illegal. It may be a breach of contract. It is certainly a breach of trust.

The only conclusion I can reach is that any promise to keep data safe is worthless.

Update: More bad faith from the Dick Smith receivers. The form to opt out asks for my full name, then wants me to confirm my address. That could be just another way of confirming data for the database. There’s no mention of my rights here either.

Banking
Banking

Judging by incoming mail, press releases and social media, technology start-ups think we care about their money-raising.

They often spend precious resources telling us how much they have raised or expect to raise.

Start-ups also want to tell us they or were mentioned in an important publication or were invited to take part in an event. I’ve seen press releases boasting about some allegedly famous venture capitalist, who no-one in New Zealand has heard of, making a passing comment about a start-up.

So what?

None of this is news. Almost no-one cares. That’s not media rudeness or arrogance. That’s what access to web stats tells us. We know readers don’t click on those stories. They are not interested.

They don’t care much when the start-up is in their own town and involves people they may know. They care less if the boast comes from a start-up based halfway across the world.

And yet still the deluge of press release material and assorted marketing hype continues to flow.

Bubble

The world of venture capital and start-up finance exist in a bubble. One that rarely connects to the real world.

Things that matter inside the bubble have little resonance outside.

No doubt the latest funding round is of utmost importance to everyone involved in the start-up.

But until there is something tangible to show, the press releases are just so much noise and wasted public relations effort.

They can even harm the business, because journalists will see them as attention-seeking time-wasters and ignore the start-up when there is something worthwhile to say.

For the rest of us, start-ups only become interesting when a product or service ships. The product has to useful or fun. It has to have a real market. It has to be better, cheaper or otherwise different from what has gone before.

Now tell me something interesting

Now here’s the curious thing. Most of the time the product or service being developed is interesting. The idea that kicked-off the start-up may also be interesting. Far more interesting than much of the banal waffle the public relations types push our way.

If you want to create a buzz about a new product, service or other business, tell us why it is better than what went before. Explain how improves lives, saves time, entertains us or boosts productivity.

Don’t bore us with dry financial details, save that stuff for your investors. Instead get us excited about the proposition.

There is a time and place to talk about money. Rod Drury has made some important points in the past about Xero’s war chest and spending strategy. That information is only interesting because we already care about Xero.

Drury and his team told us all the key who, why, what stories years ago. We’re hooked. So when he talks about the money raised and what he intends to do with it, it’s a message worth hearing.