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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Parallel US imports will start - Unlocked iPhone 4 for $649
Parallel US imports will start - Unlocked iPhone 4 for $649

On Tuesday Apple Inc. USA announced to start selling its flagship iPhone completely carrier unlocked for only $649 for the low-end 16 GB and $749 for the fat 32 GB model.

Let me calculate the Euro conversions for you with today’s currency rates;
$649 = €450
$749 = €520

In Belgium I paid a hefty €629 for the 16 GB model, and the 32 GB costs €739.

iPhone 4 >> 16 GB €629 - €450 = €179 difference.
iPhone 4 >> 32 GB €739 - €520 = €219 difference.

import US price

So why is there such a big difference in price? First off, in the US Apple Store those prices are without taxes, because they can differ from state to state. Once you enter you delivery address it will calculate automatically the new price with the tax percentage applicable for that state.

Secondly Apple has marketing, translation and other regional overhead that makes up for the price difference, at least that is what they tend us to believe.

Those price differences beg for ?illegal? parallel imports from the USA to Europe. Parallel import, in case you are not sure what it is, is that someone buys these iPhones in the USA and start selling them in shops in Europe. And that might be illegal. Apple can normally decide which importers in Europe are allowed to import the iPhone, but this right is not active; “when a product has been marketed by the legal owner in a country or group of countries of the EEA” (The EEA is the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein). It does not stop there because in a number of European laws, the European Union introduced a derogation of property rights and thus the potential for parallel imports is limited. (Source:

I know from the past, that parallel import has been successfully stopped by the Music Industry when EU-shops tried to import cheap CDs from the US.

Me personally I am not sure if the EU is serving us consumers for the best with those laws. Why couldn’t I at least have the choice of buying an American parallel imported iPhone, dump the US charger and get on with my life? Only time will tell, when the first shops are being sued by the big Apple.

Note: I am totally not EU law specialized so if you find any inaccurate information in my post please leave a comment and enlighten the EU iPhone community.

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