Coevolving Innovations

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iPod Index, versus Big Mac Index

iPod cost chart

CNNMoney had a headline that the cheapest place in the world to buy an 2GB iPod Nano was in Canada.

Working from up from the bottom of the list, the next-cheapest locations for an iPod were in Hong Kong, Japan and the U.S.

The iPod is most expensive — by far — in Brazil, with India and Sweden next in line.

The writers point out that, at current exchange rates, the iPod is actually cheaper in Canada than in China, where the product is manufactured. Shipping costs seem to matter less than currency issues, with the U.S. dollar noted as undervalued.

On the other hand, The Economist recently posted its Big Mac Index. This long-running statistic had its 10th annual release in 1998, so we’re coming up to the 20-year point for that measure.

The cheapest place for a Big Mac is China, closely followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia and Egypt. The most expensive are in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Big Mac Index

Of course, these types of statistics change every year. They’re layman’s versions of purchasing power parity, to give a relative idea about how much a currency is over-valued or under-valued.

If we were to think about this more seriously, though … what does it mean to have a country where iPods are cheap and food is moderately expensive — as in Canada — as compared to a country where food is cheap and iPods are moderately expensive — as in China?

It’s coming up to tax season, so maybe we’ll hear more griping, but maybe we need some more perspective on our standard of living in the first world.

3 Comments

  • Perhaps you need to get Adam to bring you back a Macintosh computer when he returns from China! ;-)

    It is no surprise that you find IBM parts in an Apple product … while Apple is always considered a renegade in the computing industry, it still sources many of its components from the most common component manufacturers, and with the large number of PC’s that are built around the world, using their economies of scale to reduce manufacturing costs are just good business.

    While Apples NIH syndrome may have been one of it’s Achilles Heels in the past, an understanding of using more standardized components in its designs are part of the reason that it is growing at a faster rate than most other computing companies. Even with core system software, Apple’s decision to base all of its media on variants of industry standard MPEG and JPEG file formats appears to be winning out over the MS and Real attempts at building in-house media formats.


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