The not-so-cheap Mac mini

Everybody and their grandmother are drooling over the new “Mac mini”: — and saying it’s so affordable “everyone should own one”: If you are living in the US, the new basic Mac mini is oh, so affordable, and you _should_ own one. Shame on you and me for not living in the US. Let’s review the prices if you live anywhere else.

I have used “Aftenposten’s currency converter”: to convert prices for the basic $499 Mac mini around the world back to USD:
* “Norway: NOK 4490”: = $738.37
* “Denmark: DKK 3899”: = $713.50
* “Sweden: SEK 4695”: = $710.77
* “Ireland: EUR 519”: = $706.25
* “Austria: EUR 499”: = $679.04
* “Germany: EUR 489”: = $665.43
* “United Kingdom: GBP 339”: = $651.30
* “Australia: AUD 799”: = $610.54
* “Japan: JPY 58590”: = $566.42
* “Canada: CAD 629”: = $516.28
The price difference between Norway and the U.S. is *48%*. Shame on you Apple!

Leave a comment


  1. Well, there are a few things to consider.
    First, you should strip VAT from the prices, which in the Irish case accounts for €90. As far as I know, VAT is a lot less in the US than in European countries (and I suspect it’s quite high in Norway).
    Secondly, you’ve got to remember that European MacMinis are built in Europe (in Cork, Ireland, where I live), and wages are paid in Euros, not dollars, so a simple application of exchange rates doesn’t work.
    Finally, you’ve got to remember that the exchange rate has hit a very unusual low that reflects the policies of the US administration more than the difference between the US and European economies. Being Irish, I can tell you that Irish people can afford to pay €510 for a PC. In fact, €510 for a computer with MacOS X, iLife and AppleWorks (i.e. everything you need for home computing) and the almost complete absence of viruses and malware is pretty good by Irish standards. Even if you add an apple keyboard and 512MB of memory, for €620 you’re getting a pretty good deal.
    It’s not something I would buy for myself, but once Tiger comes out it’ll definitely be an upgrade I’d recommend for my parents and their friends

  2. Bryan: It’s not that we cannot afford Macs here in Norway, even at the prices Apple are charging: It’s rather the quite huge price differences. I see no reason why I should be paying more than Irish customers.
    Also, keep in mind that it’s not Apple’s job to pay taxes and toll fees when I order a Mac from the U.S. — that’s actually _my_ job.
    Besides — at over 700 dollars, users can get way more bang per buck if they go for PC hardware. PC hardware is dirt-cheap here.

  3. Actually, if you take away VAT (Irish = $120, Norway = $145) you get the following prices:
    Ireland : $586
    Norway: $593
    Comparied to Ireland, Apple is only overcharging you by seven dollars! Compared to the states, it’s a bit more ugly of course, but I don’t think it’s a whole $86. Given that they have to pay for local labour and shipping of parts, I’d say it’s more like $30 higher, which still isn’t pleasant, but it’s hardly extorionate.
    Regarding the pricing, I’ve always been rather dubious of Apple’s margins, but I think the Mac Mini, once Tiger is shipped, will be worth it.
    Dell could ship the same for up to €100 less, but that extra €100 you pay for Apple gets you a quality operating system, with quality apps (bar AppleWorks, which is only alright) and freedom from the vast majority of viruses and trojans.
    For mom & pop users, I think that’s worth the extra money.
    For me, I’m quite partial to my PC with Linux, and I can’t see myself switching to a PowerPC in the near future. I’d never consider the iMac, it looks great, but the specs are a bit limited, and I feel you’re paying a bit too much for style. However it’s another good mom & pop PC.
    Actually, I’m not sure if mom & pop is the best way of describing that market. There’s lots of people out there, not just mom & pops, with no interest in games or development, who just want office, internet and maybe a bit of multimedia with no hassle. Apple suits these people down to the ground. Dell is cheaper, but the system software is far from hassle free.
    What I’d be interested to know, though, is where is the eMac going? Now there’s an overpriced PC if ever I saw one! I’m beginning to suspect they’ve priced it to nullify the educational discount.

  4. Arve, the US price is $499, not $449.
    And the price difference for the Mac mini isn’t really much different from the price differences for other products, like the Big Mac.

  5. Lasse: Typo. Thanks for telling me. Fixed.
    Lasse, Bryan: I do get your points – but what I cannot understand is why the price of the mac is so different to the price of a PC: Norway is a country where the grocery stores sell PCs with “OKish” specs at $450 dollars, justifying the price of the Mac mini becomes hard.

  6. fernando

     /  2005-01-15

    I do agree with arve! I live in italy and here the launch price it’s gonna be euro 499, but I am already checkin on the ebay lookin forward to get it from the u.s.: 499 usd is worth 380 euro and this means saving 120 euro, a big fat 26%! whoever was sayin the difference is not that big must be on crack!
    med venlig hilsen!

  7. Explaining the price difference with Irish wages doesn’t make sense if production is cheaper some other place. At present there may be cheaper countries within the EU as well.
    And if the US$ exchange rate is has hit a very unusual low it allows US companies to sell more dirt cheap computers, not jacking up the price per unit.

  8. To follow up on this: “According to AppleInsider”: the Mac mini is to be produced in Taiwan by Foxconn.

  9. Dean W

     /  2005-01-18

    As a Brit who lives in the USA, I can tell you that US$499 is not the price I’d be paying for the Mini Mac either (I’d pay $534). Prices quoted in the USA don’t include taxes because the amount changes by state and sometimes by city. So to get a more reasonable 1 to 1 comparison you must remove VAT and then compare. In which case you’re more likely to see a much more reasonable margin, which probably accounts for duty and shipping.

  10. Dean, I have “made a VAT-excluded comparison”: — Apple’s international margins are still quite insane.

  11. Blaise

     /  2005-01-18

    this is the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard. You could make this same statement about any other product. If you look at US magazines they always have a US and Canada price and the Canada price is always a couple dollars more, so how dare all magazine companies. Also how dare everyone that doesn’t use US currency because the dollar is losing value daily on other nation’s currencies. You are being ridiculous.

  12. Blaise: Your logic is somewhat flawed:
    If the value of the US dollar is becoming weaker over time, then Mac equipment should really become _cheaper and cheaper_ outside the US.
    They aren’t however. The Mac Mini is, tax considerations excluded over 20% more expensive in Norway than the US.

  13. Ed Grau

     /  2005-03-12

    I don’t think Apple USA sets the prices for foreign. Rather the distributor does. Even if its an Apple subsidiary, they have to add import duties imposed by the local government. That’s usually why the cost is higher.

  14. Igor S

     /  2005-09-24

    If you think you’ve seen expensive, check out the apple prices in Brazil:
    On Sep 24, 2005, I did a conversion, and it costs a mere US$ 1271.72 (R$ 2890.00).
    I don’t believe it’s Apple fault, since my guess is that they don’t make their profit
    selling in Brazil. The government keeps most of it to keep going with their corruption
    campaigns. I imagine that is no different around the world, just to a smaller extent
    in other less corrupt nations.

  15. jackie

     /  2006-03-27

    Just wondering if you would be able to help me.
    I would like to buy a macmini as a present for someone.
    What is the best price for one in Dublin.
    Many Thanks