The conversion I do below is just for the "regular" iPhone With NO CONTRACT.
In the first column are the prices in local currency for the respective country.
The second column I calculated how much the holders of those currencies would have to exchange in order to buy the iPhone in the US instead.
The third column shows the difference in local currency between what it would cost residents to buy an iPhone in their own country at the local price vs how much they would have to convert to buy it in the US in US dollars.
For example, in the UK a 16GB phone is £539. In the US it is $649. At today's exchange rate of 1 pound sterling exchanges for $1.633384 dollars, a Brit would need exactly £397.22 to buy the phone in the US. That is a SAVINGS of £141.78 for them over the UK retail price!
In US dollars that is $231.58 ( £141.78 X $1.633384). A lot, isn't it? Seems like a GREAT opportunity for "Arbitrage". Buy low at retail in the US and still sell below the retail price in the UK and make some money, right?
Included in the price quoted above for the UK (and I believe for the other countries listed) is a thing called the Value Added Tax or "VAT.
Here is the breakdown for the UK (found HERE)
16GB - £539 (£449.17 ex VAT)
64GB - £619 (£515.83 ex VAT)
128GB - £699 (£582.50 ex VAT)
So the ACTUAL prices of the phones, minus the VAT, are in parenthesis. If you take these numbers and subtract the 2nd column numbers it will show a much lower difference, hence a smaller arbitrage opportunity. It almost disappears if you were to add on the Sales Tax to the US prices listed.
It seems to only way to make money buying in the US and selling in the UK (and the other countries listed EXCEPT Japan) is to trade on the Black Market to avoid the steep VAT taxes.
I am sure that is not the reason for the long lines in the US and people buying multiple phones....RIGHT?