Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bend over and cough… (Price Disparity)

Welcome to Australia, home of the great barrier reef, Uluru, kangaroo’s, emu’s, the shrimps cooking on the barbie and paying through the nose when you want something.

Recently in Australia there has been some commotion in the retail world regarding the topic of when and where people shop. Major retailers have been up in arms regarding the increasing trend for people to window shop in stores and then head home in order to purchase what they want from an online retailer. The key motivator with this being money, or in their case the loss of it.

We have a goods and services tax here in Australia and part of the crying foul by retailers is the fact that online goods under the value of AU$1000 do not attract a customs import fee thus can be seen to be a major drive for shoppers to head online. The truth of the matter however is we do not pay 10% more for goods, in many cases it can be up to 100% more.

In part I do agree with the retailers, personally when I choose to do my shopping online I also do my research regarding the product online as well. I look at photos, read reviews and investigate the specifications / features of the product I am thinking of buying and base my decision on this. People however that do their shopping in brick and mortar stores and then buy online to save money are in a sense cheating the store of their chance to earn your money. They do all the ground work by having staff there to assist you with your questions and having the goods for you to have a play with in person, only for you to then walk away hence wasting their time and their money I would be annoyed too.

But the question is what is that level of service worth?

Some things in my view affect the purchase price of the product:

1. Economies of scale
Australia has a population 22.3 million (circa 2010) vs the population of the United States being 311.5 million. American with a population almost 14 times that of Australia, coupled with a higher GDP per capita would lead to a greater percentage of units being sold there.

2. Manufacture
In the global economy these days, goods are increasingly manufactured in one location and from there dispatched to the areas in which they will be sold. Based on this the cost of supply is more stable rather than differing material and labour costs driving supply and demand associated costs.

3. Logistics
Given that goods are increasingly made overseas due to cheaper labour and materials, the other component to consider is the costs associate with shipping the goods to where they are being sold. I could go on to write a complex formula to calculate cost, however goods are commonly shipped either by air or sea, the common variable being fuel associated with hauling the goods. The areas of the world that are used for manufacture is commonly third world countries as well as china due to the low costs associated with operation of factories and cheap workforce, these countries are relatively central in the world meaning overall distances between major countries can be relatively evened out working on an aggregate cost per location for delivery, the only key variable here is the number of units being shipped. The more units there are the heavier a shipment weighs, the more something weighs the more energy is expended in propelling it to it’s destination.

4. Local Costs (Warehousing / Store / Wages)
Australia has minimum wage laws defining how much one should expect to be paid based on age, years of employment and vocation (covered under federal / state award rates) aside from these there is the absolute minimum wage being $15.51 per hour. When comparing this to the USA where I believe it is not uncommon for unskilled labour to earn about $5 per hour this does represent a significant difference in staffing costs. Retail rent is not particularly cheap I do not believe anywhere in the world, the major key difference between us would be wages I believe.

All this boils down to the actual cost that each of us pay for goods respectively in a brick and mortar store.

Item

Price in Australia

Price in USA (AU$)

Difference

Canon EOS 5D Mk III $4399 MSRP $3300 MSRP +32%
Diablo III $88 (EB Games) $57 (Gamestop) +54%
Playstation 3 $348 (EB Games) $183 (Gamestop) +90%
20 pack Marlboro Red $13.20 $5.40 (San Diego) +244%
Fuel (Per Liter) $1.50 (as of tonight) $0.96 (gasbuddy.com) +56%
1kg T-Bone Steak $19.90 $28.87 (homelanddelivery.com) -45%
iPad 3 16GB wifi $539 $475 +13%

* Note to self fulfill T-Bone desire before next travel to USA youch

Surprisingly Apple actually win out after taking GST into consideration, they only charge us an additional 3% compared to the states, still I do not think their products are worth the pricetag associated but I digress…

In the end it all boils down to what you are willing to pay for something, it seems that we here in Australia don’t mind being ripped off when shopping in stores…

Now to consider some items which actually have the same costs associated with them.

In the digital age we have more and more content becoming available to us over the internet and can buy content such as games and music in digital form. The largest part of the cost in data for Australian users is the fact that about 90 – 95% of content we like is hosted in the USA and there is a whopping great ocean in the way. This cost however is not worn by the content provider it is covered by the international bandwidth provisioned by our carriers here leaving the actual supply costs pretty much the same for all markets.

For digital game delivery Steam has certainly taken off, being a global platform with many datastores being provided by other carriers to Steam overseas you would think that there would be a set cost with products regardless of where you are, however sadly this is not the case.

Item

Australian Pricing

US Pricing

Difference

Bulletstorm $69.99 $19.99 +350%
Rage $89.99 $29.99 +300%
Duke Nukem Forever $49.99 $19.99 +250%
Assassin’s Creed Revelations $79.99 $49.99 +60%
Call of Duty Black Ops $89.99 $39.99 +80%
Saints Row The Third $89.99 $49.99 +80%
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 $99.99 $59.99 +67%

It is not just steam who take advantage of Australian consumers, Apple also take a slice of the pie just for being an Aussie

Source: http://www.macstories.net/stories/the-great-disparity-in-global-itunes-prices/

Apple do not gouge us as much as steam, however +46% for the same cost of supply is still making way too easy money.

In both of these instances given that the majority of the cost associated with delivering the product is worn by the customers’ carrier this is just blatant “give us money just because we say so if you want our stuff” Unfortunately the great masses of the people are sheep and ooh I want it, that does not seem too unreasonably priced stuff it I will buy it.

In closing I will make one last comparison being flights between the same point A and point B using the same carrier except booking from both sides.

Qantas is the flag airline carrier of Australia, and can be recognized everywhere by the red kangaroo. Being an Aussie company you would think they would give their best prices and options to those that helped create them and have supported them over the years, but sadly this is not the case. When you book a flight between the same locations (in this example Melbourne and Los Angeles) you would expect the costs to be identical when taking into account local currency. The route, the locations that are used (and associated fees), fuel and staff at each end are all the same, and you would expect that on the costs already calculated for the route as well as the margin that you are wanting to make on the flights would work out to be exactly the same.

Month

MEL – LAX Return (AU$)

LAX – MEL Return (AU$)

Difference

May $1330 $1062 +25%
June $2012 $1209 +66%
July $2402 $1733 +38%
August $1757 $1114 +58%
September $1778 $1114 +60%
October $2027 $1580 +28%

On average we pay an additional 45% premium just for the privilege of using our flag carrier to go to the United States.

The old saying of A fool and his money being easily parted comes to mind, in the end it boils down to how and where we choose to spend our money.

Some Fun with Photoshop

When it comes to creating things my abilities to put it bluntly really really suck. I have always had ideas in my head; images, stories, music and the like however unfortunately I have never been gifted with an artists streak. When it comes to art the best I ever been able to come up with is stick men, whilst not knocking the awesomeness that can be stick men when you have a beautiful visage in your mind that you would love to produce it can be somewhat disheartening to say the least. And when it comes to music as much as I would love to learn an instrument and tried once many years ago with guitar I do not seem to possess deft fingers, they are more suited to bludgeoning or poking than delicate acts which is counter productive in the art of music making.

That is why I have always loved photography so much we live in an incredibly beautiful world filled with unique and interesting things / moments and the ability to be able to capture and present these images allows me an outlet for creativity at least. When it comes to software I tend to have a knack for being able to figure out how to make something work the way that I want it, and as long as I am not creating something from nothing I can piece things together in order to make something different. With this under my belt I decided to have a little fun with photoshop.

The basis for the below is the image previously shared. There are 2 iterations; the first being the removal of the human element of the shot (some small buildings, the shed and the silo) and the second the addition of some buildings. The overall shot was a little light however given the exposure I think that I blended the elements reasonably well. It has been a very long time since I have done any digital manipulation and it was an enjoyable hour or so of work, so perhaps I may make this a more regular occurrence.

 

 

Advertisements and the modern world

I will admit it, in regards to some things I am most certainly a sheep, however I am a sheep that is aware of his nature as a commodity in this digital age. We live in an increasingly interconnected world, it allows for the sharing of information at an almost scary pace, to share ideas and philosophies and even to connect with the people that we do not see every day. However everything has it’s price.

Social media is absolutely booming these days with the advent of the myspace, facebook and twitter and their unprecedented growth people add other people, things they are interested in and in my opinion an unholy number of mind numbingly useless apps / quizzes / tools / blatant attempts to steal your details. This massage surge has seen the introduction of online passports of the sites, more and more resources are allowing you to sign in with accounts from other resources such as news and facebook and even some other general sites whereas back in the old days we would have different logins for the various portals we chose to interact with.

Modern society seems to be based on the principles of “convenience” which is why we tend to happily flock towards things that make our lives easier such as bridged logins, however in my opinion it is an inherently bad idea.

Andrew Lewis (according to what I could find on google at any rate) said: “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold” Truer words have never been spoken.

These days most people do not read terms of services that are attached to the things that we do online, we feed these sites our information and hope that they “play nice” However each time we install an app or do a quiz on facebook we are agreeing to allow the makers of that app to access our information (different apps have different levels of what you agree to), posts, friends, contact information, where we go (in the case of some smartphone apps) photos and the like.

Then we have shared logins, which basically means ok X news site, or tripadvisor or anything sure you can have all of my facebook details.

This is the reason why I still maintain separate logins for things. My facebook account is for facebook, my yahoo account is for yahoo (well and flikr), my msn account is for msn and Trip advisor well you get the picture now. That way I control what information of mine each separate service gets to subscribe to.

Some people may wonder what can be potentially seen as useless information about you could possibly be considered valuable, and it all boils down to the almighty dollar, pound sterling, euro or whatever currency that you subscribe to. Online advertising is a HUGE business, never before have companies had access to such wealths of information about potenital markets, and then with that information be able to custom tailor ads and who they get seen by.

In my case I do wonder how they come up with what adverts to display to me, 99.9% of the time what they present to me I am not remotely interested in, but they have proven that they are learning as once in a blue moon they do have something that I stop and go hmm at and perhaps look at.

A snapshot of the ads on my facebook page at this point in time.

What are you waiting for?
Lonely times are gone whether you’re looking for fun, dating or a long term relationship. Make a free and quick profile now.

What you think because I am single I am going to be desperate to sign up to some dating site I have never heard of in order to spend some of my hard earnt money on a bunch of chicks which are most likely paid in order for you to never get anywhere with? Yeah no thanks.

$9.99 Threadless T-shirts
Sale has been extended! Ends 23.3.

Well as a general rule I don’t wear T-Shirts often, I am more of a shirt or polo shirt kinda guy…

Perth Solar Sale
perthsolarsale.com.au
Be one of the first 50 people to register and pay your deposit on our solar open day to receive 2 VIP corporate hospitality tickets

Ok of all the ads currently on my page, this would be the most likely one that I would be interested in, as I have been considering a solar farm in the backyard to generate the household power needs. However good that deal may make itself out to be I wouldn’t be convinced as they need to cover their advertising costs somehow…

Meet Indonesian Singles
Indonesian dating and singles site. Don’t miss out. Join now! IndonesianCupid.com

At least it is only 2 ads tonight regarding me finding someone… I guess the algorithm goes joel = single + travels to indonesia fairly reguarly therefore give him an ad to meet singles in Indonesia. Again no thanks

90% OFF RETAIL!
smartbiddy.com
HUGE SAVINGS! 90% OFF BRAND NEW Apple, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, Xbox, Nintendo, Canon…Become a member today and receive 20 FREE Bids

Ok so let me get this straight, you want me to become a member in which you need to pay to be able to bid and although you advertise to not pay more than 10% of retail by the end of the auction the prices will be up at near retail anyway and you get a cut of my pay to bid… Again yeah no.

D-O-M-I-N-A-T-E
The NEWEST tower defense game on Facebook – Play Now!

Ok this one makes sense, there is 2 games that I play on facebook so advertise more. However you would think that they would be aware of the types of games I play (ie not tower defense) and advertise those to me.

It’s why I don’t google while signed into a google account, why allow them to collect more specific information about my searches and browsing history to better target ads (they can still do it based on your ip anyway)

Remember who you are and what you choose to share are yours to control and not our facebook / google overlords, also if you find ads that are no where near remotely interesting to you click them occasionally. They make you waste your time glancing at them it is only fair to make them pay for the privilege.

A photo and a thought

The above image was captured at the lookout in York, Western Australia.

I recently went on a bit of a roadtrip with a good friend for the purpose of location scouting for a film he is producing and as always I had my trusty camera with me ready to capture anything which happened to take my fancy and store for posterity. Although he has lived in the state I call home for many years now he had not ventured outside of Perth’s surrounding suburbs and I was happy to educate him on the beautiful sites that our fine state offers as well as indulge in conversation.

We had our lunch up at the lookout with my sister and brother in law where we could look out over the countryside that surrounds the time, which in my opinion is some of the most beautiful that the world has to offer, however with it is also a fear of the path the world is heading on.

The lookout itself was a fairly silent place which I will admit does suit me, I like the quiet my thoughts can go through processing in my mind and I can feel tranquil and peaceful a state of being which has been somewhat lacking for me in the last few years. As a people we tend to take way too much for granted and as we are all different we can take different things away from a scene. F0r me I felt peace, the throb of the world beneath my feet wonder at the clear blue sky, the melding of the various greens and yellows brought on by the country just coming out of our summer period. Thankful for the presence of the trees for if you choose to wander on the land they would provide you shade from the giant ball of fire in the sky we call the sun.

It also highlights the spread of humanity on our world, the beautiful trees giving way to fields and then to hills is broken by a giant shed. Thankfully the majority of the scene is nature as she intended it to be and the spread of our materialistic consumer driven world but when I look at how much we have expanded in my 30 years of life, it makes me wonder how much of this will disappear in the next 30?

Where I am thankful / at peace / pay respect for the beauty and uniqueness of each part of our home others are likely to simply see it as just another part of the bush, or alternatively something that exists to be developed as we could fit “xx” people or “xx” shopping spaces in there and it is not too far out of the city for it not to be feasible.

It seems that the bulk of people on this world are of the view that Earth is our “bitch” and exists for us to rape / use it as we see fit. The reality of the situation however is quite different, we exist because of the world beneath our feet, it has existed long before us, and will likely to continue for long past us as well. Granted she will probably have to spend awhile licking her wounds in order to get the bad taste / junk that we have filled her with over the years but as they say time heals all wounds, and she is still relatively young in universal terms.

We are the only species on this world that does not seek to live in equilibrium with our surroundings, I pray that we can change our ways as some societies seem to be looking at currently or if I end up having grand kids I may end up pointing to this photo and telling them this kiddo is what we used to call a tree.

A Purpose

Originally I created this blog as a means to try and express myself, seeing that the last post was back in 2010 it hasn’t really lived up to it’s original purpose.

As I look back over things, that original aim does still exist, I would like to get my thoughts “out there” so to speak, however it is really proving quite difficult for me. Anyone that really knows me knows that I am a relatively complex individual, there is always a lot going on in my head at any given time, from mundanely boring to scientific through to thoughts on the nature of existence and the universe.

The views and things I tend to share are more of the mundane in nature and not usually along the lines of what is buried within this noggin of mine. As time goes on though I find myself more and more withdrawing within and thus a lot of what I think / feel never truely gets expressed. As time goes on I find that hiding it within myself really isn’t achieving much and in doing so it is more like it doesn’t really exist which is a saddening thought.

I wouldn’t say it is time for a change as the root of things are still the same as they have always been, but it is time to change the expressing nature of myself who knows. This blog was to serve a purpose, it is time for it to actually live up to it. It has been very patient sitting here waiting for me to come to the party so perhaps it is time to step up to the proverbial plate.

As a wise fictional little green dude once said “Do or do not, there is no try”