Apple joins other foreign brands in raising prices in Japan

Fri May 31, 2013 4:04pm EDT
 
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Apple Inc raised prices of iPads and iPods in Japan on Friday, becoming the highest-profile brand to join a growing list of foreign firms asking Japanese consumers to pay more as a weakening yen squeezes profit.

Some U.S. companies have inoculated themselves at least temporarily against the yen's fall through financial hedging instruments, while others are charging customers more.

The yen has fallen more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar since mid-November when then-opposition leader Shinzo Abe, who is now prime minister, prescribed a dose of radical monetary easing to reverse years of sliding consumer prices as part of a deflation-fighting policy, dubbed "Abenomics."

The Bank of Japan, under a new Abe-backed governor, in April promised to inject $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years to achieve 2 percent inflation in roughly two years.

Price rises are rare in Japan, which has suffered 15 years of low-grade deflation. A few other foreign brands have also raised prices on products, providing an early sign of inflation for Abe and an indication that these companies feel consumer demand is strong enough to withstand the increases.

Still, price rises would have to spread much more widely, especially to lower-end discretionary goods, to show that Abe's aggressive policies are helping reinvigorate the economy.

TIFFANY, COACH, HARLEY

Apple, one of the most visible foreign companies in Japan, raised the price of iPads by up to 13,000 yen ($130) at its local stores. The 64-gigabyte iPad will now cost 69,800 yen, up from 58,800 yen a day ago, an Apple store employee said. The 128-gigabyte model will cost 79,800 yen compared with 66,800 yen.

Apple also upped prices of its iPod music players by as much as 6,000 yen and its iPad Mini by 8,000 yen.   Continued...

 
A man holds up a mock model of Apple's new iPad mini as he waits for the release of the tablet in front of the Apple Store Ginza in Tokyo November 1, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai