Friday, October 7, 2011

Chpr Phn Plns Pls

We get ripped off in NZ. From All Blacks jerseys to dSLRs, we pay more than we should and it's hard to figure out why. Are we too far away, nestled down here in our island paradise? No. I recently bought a camera from a shop in USA, who made a profit out of the sale, had it shipped all the way down here and it still cost me $500 less than if I had gone to a store and bought it. I can't imagine how electronics suppliers, who buy things in bulk and get them shipped in bulk, can charge so much more than their foreign counterparts. I'm sure there are some complex economics behind it, but it doesn't make sense to me. 

However, one thing that we can't buy on eBay is a monthly mobile phone account. Sure, we can buy the phone's cheaper, but it's very hard to ship an ongoing service via USPS. So we come to the crux of this rant. The cost of mobile phone usage in NZ. Since I'm hell bent on finally getting an iPhone (in memoriam to Mr. Jobs, of course), I decided to do a comparison of the prices here in Aotearoa versus those in lands far away. Below is a table of the most comparable plans I could find for NZ, Australia, UK, USA, Canada and Germany. Why Germany? Because they always seem to be in the iPhone business, and I thought I'd branch out from the English-speaking elite. I've gone with the soon-to-be defunct iPhone 16GB on a 24-month contract, because that's what most company's websites, including Vodafone NZ's, still have up for sale. All prices are converted to $NZD (rates as @ 07/10/2011).

As you can see, we are light years behind Australia and the UK. In some cases the costs of the iPhone and the plans themselves are, literally, infinitely better than what we have on offer. Surprisingly, USA, Canada and Germany are relatively expensive. Still mildly better than us in terms of the cost of the iPhone and what you get for your monthly fee, but their plans cost more per month (except Canada) and they're way behind Australia and the UK. Sprint in the US offer a US$99.99 per month plan which gives you infinite everything. Reasonably expensive, but Vodafone NZ doesn't give us an option even close to that sort of potential usage. You wouldn't need a home broadband connection with a contract like that, you could just tether your iPhone to your home computer. The prices aren't directly comparable either, they're just a direct currency conversion. That doesn't take into account the average income, cost of living, chief exports or rising sea levels.

There is something that I should add though. NZ is quite rare in that nearly anywhere you go in this country, you can get reception. Other countries struggle to get coverage to rural areas, so we can consider ourselves lucky there. Still, we are clearly paying for the privilege. Compared with Australia and the UK we are very clearly getting the bum wrap. Compared with the USA, Canada and Germany we are still getting a raw deal, but not as much as I would have thought.

Of course, none of this is going to stop me getting an iPhone is the coming months (I have agonised over whether to switch to Android plenty; it wasn't a matter of blind loyalty, I promise you that). Therein lies the problem. If I want an iPhone, I have to go through Vodafone. Sure, I could spend $1100 and buy an iPhone outright from Apple, then get it hooked up to Telecom or 2Degrees. Believe me, I'd love to do that. It's just that I don't want to spend that sort of money up front. So I have to take what I can get and there's nothing I can do about it, short of bitching about it on the internet. At least soon I'll be able to bitch about it right from the phone itself.

Edit: I thought I'd add some pretty graphs. Everyone loves graphs, right?

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