December 2011
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Day December 27, 2011

Discerning Apple's international product positioning through the big Mac index

Thanks to all those who contributed to the big Mac index there is a substantial amount of pricing data available in one location.

The analysis that I hoped to perform on the data was to see if Apple was pricing specific products differently in international markets. It was prompted by some apparently anomalous pricing of the iPhone 4S in Brazil.

To summarize, the idea is to calculate the “expected” price of an Apple product by taking the untaxed US price and adding duties and tariffs and taxes to determine what that product “should” cost in another country. Then taking the difference between this “expected” price and the actual price to determine if Apple is using pricing to signal in a particular market.

The analysis basically eliminates the effect of government on price and leaves currency and actual pricing signals from Apple as variables.

The analysis is not simple because there are many obscure tax rules. Some products are taxed differently in the same country. I have not completed the country-level analysis but have been able to see some averages over the countries reported (total of 45 reports.)

The following chart shows the average deviation from “Expected” as a percent:

Here are some potential interpretations of this data: