The rumours of delays in the international launch of the iPad 2 are unfounded. Today Apple confirmed they will go ahead with sales in 25 additional countries from 5 pm local time this Friday. It will be interesting to see how many units have been set aside for each country because it is clear from the hiatus in the USA that they’ve underestimated demand.
UK prices are announced, beginning at £399, including VAT, for the entry 16GB wifi unit, up to £659 for the most expensive, 64GB 3G model. In the USA, typically, the top pad costs around $880 including sales tax. That’s equivalent to £550, so just under £100 cheaper. When we take off the UK’s 20% VAT sales tax, though, the pre-tax prices are not that far out—$829 in the US compared with $878 in the UK. Apple have often said that the cost of doing business in the UK is higher than in the USA, but they also have to contend with a constantly fluctuating exchange rate which no amount of advance hedging can completely smooth out.
Many desperate buyers will be camped out Thursday night at Apple stores, particularly in London. As we have come to expect, a large proportion will be grey marketers. They grab their two iPads and then hand them over to a fat cat in a large limousine round the corner. As I said yesterday, it’s high time Apple clamped down on this by giving precedence to people with Apple IDs and buy refusing to accept cash. Nothing is more calculated to annoy loyal customers—and make them feel that Apple do not care about them—than to see a gaggle of mercenaries heading the queue.