U.S. News

Apple's iPod Takes on Global Currency Markets


Having already stormed world fashion, Apple's hip iPod music player is finally making its presence felt in global currency markets.

One of Australia's biggest banks, the Commonwealth Bank, has used the latest version of Apple's music player - the slimline Nano - to compare global currencies and purchasing power in 26 countries.

Along the lines of the Big Mac index launched 20 years ago by The Economist magazine, the survey prices the 2GB Nano in U.S. dollars and found Brazilians pay the most for an iPod, shelling out $327.71, well above second-placed India at $222.27.

Canada was the cheapest place to buy a Nano at $144.20, while Australia ranked 19th at $172.36, cheaper than Germany ($192.46), France ($205.80), South Korea ($176.17) and China where the machine is manufactured. The U.S. was fourth cheapest at $149.

"Interestingly, especially with freight costs close to zero, China is middle ranked in terms of global prices at $179.84," Craig James, the Chief Equities Economist at Commonwealth Bank, told Reuters.

Purchasing power parity surveys compare the prices of goods in different countries and at their simplest level can help show whether one currency is undervalued against another.

James said the results suggested the U.S. currency had scope to rise against a range of major currencies except for the Hong Kong and Canadian dollars or the Japanese yen.

However, the results could be influenced by different pricing policies that Apple might apply in different parts of the world, James said.

"The results of the CommSec iPod index won't provide joy to U.S. policy makers. They want the Chinese yuan to appreciate, not fall in value against the U.S. dollar," he said.

More than 21 million iPods were sold in the last quarter.

The CommSec iPod Index, based on January 2007 prices:

1. Brazil $327.71

2. India $222.27

3. Sweden $213.03

4. Denmark $208.25

5. Belgium $205.81

6. France $205.80

7. Finland $205.80

8. Ireland $205.79

9. UK $195.04

10. Austria $192.86

11. Netherlands $192.86

12. Spain $192.86

13. Italy $192.86

14. Germany $192.46

15. China $179.84

16. South Korea $176.17

17. Switzerland $175.59

18. New Zealand $172.53

19. Australia $172.36

20. Taiwan $164.88

21. Singapore $161.25

22. Mexico $154.46

23. U.S. $149.00

24. Japan $147.63

25. Hong Kong $147.35

26. Canada $144.20

Source: CommSec, Apple