Mac markup: Apple levies Aussie tech tax


Iconic technology giant Apple will price its new range of products unveiled tonight substantially higher in Australia than in the US, reversing a trend seen recently where the company has appeared to be narrowing the pricing gap between Australia and its home country.

Tonight the company started selling an upgraded range of its MacBook Air thin and light laptops, along with new Mac Minis and a new combination display and laptop dock equipped with its new Thunderbolt connector. In addition, it has made the next ‘Lion’ version of its Mac OS X operating system available for download from its Mac App Store.

Over the past few weeks, Apple has appeared to signal that it understood Australians’ ongoing frustration with technology suppliers for marking up products significantly for the Australian market — despite the fact that often the products are manufactured in the Asia-Pacific region. The markups have even applied to software products delivered online.

Just last week, Apple brought Australian pricing on software apps sold through its online stores signicantly closer to US pricing. In addition, the company has signalled it will respond next month to pricing complaints raised by Federal Labor MP Ed Husic, who spoke on the issue in parliament in late March this year.

However, Apple tonight reversed the trend.

For example, US customers will pay between US$999 (AU$929.68) and $1,599 (AU$1,488) for a new MacBook Air. In comparison, Australians will pay substantially more for the exact same hardware when sold in Australia — between AU$1,099 and AU$1,799. Some of the difference can be accounted for through Australia’s 10 percent GST — but not all of it.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to the pricing on Apple’s new Thunderbolt Display. The new model will sell in the US for $999 (AU$928.84). However, Australians will pay more than AU$270 more for the exact same hardware. US prices on the new Mac Mini start from US$599 (AU$557) and go up to US$999 (AU$928.84). However, Australians will again pay more — from US$699 to $1,099.

There is one ray of sunshine shining through the Apple pricing gloom, however. When Apple started selling the new version of its Final Cut Pro software late last month, it marked up Australian prices by AU$66, despite the software being the same package delivered from the same online store. However, with the launch tonight of Lion, Australians will only pay slightly more than Americans for the new operating system.

In the US, Lion will cost US$29.99 (AU$27.93), while in Australia it will go for AU$31.99. The price difference, once GST is taken out of the equation, represents only a four percent disadvantage for Australians.

Compared with some other technology suppliers, Apple’s markups are not as steep as they could be, however. For example, PC manufacturer Lenovo was forced to mount a spirited defence of its Australian pricing in mid May this year, despite launching its flagship new ThinkPad X1 laptop in Sydney for $560 more than the same hardware will cost in the US.

Microsoft also regularly marks up prices for the Australian market, but perhaps the worst known culprit is Adobe.

In Australia, Adobe launched its Creative Suite 5 Master Collection in April 2010 for AU$4,344 for the full edition, and AU$1,503 for the upgrade edition. In the US, the same software cost US$2,599 (at that time, AU$2,816.45) for the full edition — more than AU$1,500 less. The upgrade edition cost US$899 (at that time, AU$974.22) — more than AU$500 less.

Image credit: Apple


  1. You want your Apple fix – you close your eyes and pay the price.

    If you want something cheap there is plenty of other stuff you can choose from.


  2. Very misleading article. The new entry level Macbook Air is $100 cheaper and one can determine that Apple has slashed the Australian price. Australians have always been accustomed to paying a premium on just about everything so this isn’t really anything new

    Our minimum wage is also more than double than the US.

    • $100 cheaper than it was last time? It’s still more expensive … and things get more expensive the further you go up the Apple tech tree. It may not be anything new, but there there is a debate around Apple’s pricing — and that of other vendors in Australia — which I think people are interested in having; even in Federal Parliament.

    • Good point, US people need to pay extra in state sales tax over and above the quoted price, whereas in Australia the GST is included within the price. However I’m not sure how that would work out for online purchases.

  3. They are slowly improving, right now I think Australia has it as good as anyone in the world compared to US pricing. I would give them an A on software, B+ on consumer hardware and C on pro hardware. This is a stark improvement from last year.

    Consider the Cinema Display – (all US pricing)
    US – 999.00
    AUS – 1,288.05
    NZ – 1,412.34
    UK – 1,453.26

    Considering that we A:have to pay 10% GST and B:this is not a consumer item, I think it’s pretty good. certainly as a long time Apple customer I can tell you we have never had it so good price wise.

    Kudos for mentioning the worst offender – Adobe. I had to do an upgrade a few weeks ago and got taken to the cleaners – no wonder so many people choose to pirate creative suite, Adobe really gives the middle finger to non US countries

  4. Once again Renai, you pubished this article to troll for reactions.

    You are right that _some_ products do incurr a markup that is far above the exchange rate but generally the pricing of Apple products is far better than the past.

    While you do make mention of the GST that does push the AU price up, you dont actually compare the prices evenly.

    A true comparrison should be made with the GST exclusive price and you will find the percentages drop substantially.

    It is also worth noting that purchases made from Apples online store in the US will incurr a sales tax rate based on where the purchaser is located. For example, in Oregon, this is Nil, where in places like California, this could be as high as 12%.

    While I know this is a technology website, we as consumers should be focusing on the raw deal we get on every other product that is for sale (IT related or not) rather than purely pointing the finger at Apple.

    • I’m not trolling for reactions, I’m publishing factual information. As for the other vendors … have you not noticed the amount of grief I have given Adobe and Microsoft recently?

      • You are right… the information you published is factual, but you have presented the facts in a way to make the price differences more pronounced than they actually are.

        To get a true price comparison you should be comparing the Ex GST price with the US price.

        As for Microsoft and Adobe, I have noticed the amount of grief you have given them!! Thats why i mentioned that its incumbent on all of us to put pressure on Australian retailers to give us a better deal.

  5. So now it’s NBN supporters vs. NBN haters

    Microsoft supporters vs. Apple supporters

    You can tell this site is focused on IT, gotta love it ;)

  6. Maybe in some crazy scheme designed to maximise profit, Apple have decided to price their products at whatever price the market will bear…

  7. Sure, Australians pay more. But you can’t say that the trend (of Apple moving towards similer pricing) is reversing. The US prices on the new Macbook Airs stayed the same as compared with the old models, all the Australian prices dropped significantly. The price gap IS narrowing, just apparently not as much as you would like. You’re writing the story you want to write with no regard to the facts.

  8. To be honest I have no idea why you guys are so quick to defend Apple .. don’t you consider any significant price markup to be unfair?

    • Because it’s not that significant? Take tax off and you get down to $1318 (on the 13-inch base model) versus $1299. If you convert both to the same currency it looks a bit worse, but doing this has its own problems and artificialities, and the Australian dollar is unusually high against the US currently. Apple doesn’t want to put their Australian prices up mid product cycle, so they hedge a little against currency changes. Then there’s freight costs, higher wages and other costs of doing business in Australia and the smaller Australian market is a different economic proposition to the larger US market.

      • Perhaps, but how do you justify this?

        “It’s a similar situation when it comes to the pricing on Apple’s new Thunderbolt Display. The new model will sell in the US for $999 (AU$928.84). However, Australians will pay more than AU$270 more for the exact same hardware.”

        $270 for the exact same hardware, for a model that is likely manufactured in China? How can you justify that, even with GST?

        • They defend Apple because they have Apple blinkers on.

          Its Apple fanboism.

          Basically – they will not criticise a single thing Apple does as they believe everything Apple does is pure gold. Even when its clearly not (like defending bad system specifications for one).

          But that’s Apple’s policy too. Apple force you to do everything Apple’s way with no choice in the matter (which is why I’ll never buy an iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc).

          Interestingly – they accused Microsoft of being evil for doing the very same thing.

          Nowadays – the Microsoft OS is quite flexible. Can’t say the same for Apple.

  9. Renai is just having a grumpy day because he is taking a while to acclimatise to the UI.

    He will be fine, soon. He willpick it up.


  10. Mountain out of a molehill.

    I went through the majority of Apple’s products, added sales tax to the US RRP prices and they worked out, to be only 6% (on average) less than than the AU pricing.

    Stick it to ASUS, Dell, Lenovo and others who consistently charge 10-20-30% more on their items here in Australia. Apple at least try.

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