Study finds iPads cost most in Europe and UK, cheapest in U.S.

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Britain and Europe are the world’s costliest places to buy Apple Inc’s new iPad computer, with prices around a quarter higher than in the United States, a new study has found.

Visitors check out the new Apple iPads at an Apple retail store in Madrid, May 28, 2010. REUTERS/Susana Vera

While the much-hyped tablet should trade at broadly the same price globally if exchange rates were properly adjusting, Australia’s CommSec iPad Index found big savings for Europeans traveling to Asia, the United States or even Down Under.

“In the UK, Germany, France and Italy an iPad costs 20-25 per cent more than in the U.S.,” said Craig James, chief economist at the CommSec share trading division of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank.

“The question is whether Apple has priced its product too high for the European market, or whether the UK pound and euro need to depreciate further to bring global pricing into line.”

CommSec’s index is a modern variation on the long-running Big Mac index compiled by The Economist magazine and compares the price of iPads in 10 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Britain, Japan, Australia and Canada.

Prices for the cheapest, WiFi-only version range from $499 in the United States to the equivalent of $620 in Britain for the entry-level 16 gigabyte model. Canada ($520), Japan ($536) and Australia ($533) rounded out the price basement countries.

At the top end, an iPad 64gb model with WiFi and 3G connectivity cost $829 in the United States against $1,010 in Britain and $980 in Germany, France and Italy.

The tablet device, CommSec said, is identical across the globe so theoretically the only difference in pricing should be freight charges and local taxes.

But national debt woes in Europe and Britain have rocked the Euro and pound in recent months, throwing global currencies into turmoil.

“More generally, the CommSec iPad and CommSec iPod indexes suggest the U.S. dollar needs to lift against major currencies, but more so against the Euro and pound sterling,” James said.

Apple fans have mobbed stores in Europe and Asia as the iPad went on sale outside the United States, with some shoppers queuing all night to get their hands on one.

The device, a little smaller than a regular notebook computer and with an open, color touchscreen, is designed for surfing the Web, watching movies and reading, and has been hailed by the publishing industry as a potential life-saver.

Editing by Belinda Goldsmith