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What do you mean WHY is Sony PS4 so pricey in Oz?

Er, you see, there's this thing called capitalism...

Cash changing hands

Opinion You'd think that Guardianistas would know something about capitalism: they are so critical of it after all. But no, in the G's new Oz site we find the same gormless no-cluebat ignorance that we get in our own dear and beloved home version of the paper.

To quote the Down Under edition:

Why is the PS4 so expensive in Australia?

The Playstation 4 is set to retail at a tooth-grindingly expensive $549 because ... well, we're not quite sure, and this is the issue.

So says the headline and subhead... And just to hammer it home in the text, we get:

All that, and it cost $100 USD less, too, coming in at $399. It seemed like Sony could do no wrong. But for all this fanfare and literal standing ovation, there's a problem for Australian gamers. The PS4 is set to retail at a tooth-grindingly expensive $549 because of... reasons? That's too much. I've checked. You can too. Sony hasn't explained its unique pricing structure yet, but it seems like a fairly arbitrary dollop of Australian tax.

Come along now Mr Howitt. We gingers are supposed to be bright to make up for our hideous genetic deformity. The reason that bastard capitalists overcharge Australians is simply that they can.

Now it is true that there are certain subtleties here: Oz prices are usually quoted 10 per cent Goods and Services Tax inclusive, while US ones are quoted sales tax exclusive (essentially because with eleventy squillion different sales tax jurisdictions it's a tad tough to quote them all). The Australian dollar is today Au$1.06 to the US dollar. OK, that accounts for a bit of it, but there's still a significant gap between the two prices. The reason? Simply because the companies think they can get away with charging you more.

It might be that all the apocryphal claims about genetically criminal backgrounds are true, or perhaps the rush of blood to the head from spending your lives upside-down may account for it. More likely, it has something to do with a captive market and the dynamics of the supply chain... The Oz income distribution might also be a good reason suppliers can get away with charging more for mass market consumer electronics. And Oz does have a rather different income distribution to other rich nations: very much higher incomes at the bottom than everyone else in fact.

The basic point: capitalists are indeed bastards, out for however much they can rook out of the populace for their tat. It's the nature of the thing. And if they think there's some section of the population they can charge more and get away with it, then charge more they will. The getting away with it part means the seller can't be losing too many sales as a result of the higher prices and thus making higher total profits. That's the point of the game after all. And clearly, the tech companies do think they can get away with charging Australians more for their gew-gaws... because they do so.

The only remaining confusion is why Guardianistas seem so confounded by such outcomes. After all, they're the people who keep telling us that capitalists are bastards and here we've capitalists acting as capitalist bastards and yet when people start conforming to their declared worldview the lefties get all confused.

As to the solution, it's similarly simple. The only reason the companies charge you more is because they think you'll pay it. Don't pay it and they can't charge it. The fault, dear Grant, is not in our business stars, but in the buyers Down Under. As long as the willing buyers keep coughing up this extra dosh, they're going to keep charging you these princely sums. ®

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