Originally Posted by Bergermeister
How can Amazon USA offer such a good discount? In Japan they only offer a 1% discount.
Originally Posted by shanmugam
sales volume, i guess.
Nope, not strictly sales volume and not strictly price fixing. The relevant question is how Amazon sells for less than Apple's "suggested" list price, not why the price is higher in Japan.
Apple is among a small group of companies which still practices what I think used to be called "fair trade pricing," though that's more often applied today to goods that certify that things like organic coffee beans from Nicaragua move through the distribution chain in such a way that the third world growers get a fair proportion of the ultimate selling price at your local coffee shop.
Such companies generally do not allow their resellers to cut the MSRP price on their products, which is why, unlike HP, Toshiba, etc., you never see Macs "on sale" or "close out" at your local independent Mac seller, let alone at Apple's company-owned stores, and only token discounts at Mac Mall and other catalog and online outlets. The independent vendors compensate, generally, by offering bundles of other products which are not semi-price controlled, like printers, scanners, software, etc. So they thus have a way to compete on price without "cutting" the advertised price of the Mac in the middle of the bundle, i.e., they eat their margins on the bundle to sell the Mac.
According to Wikipedia, the law that supports this has changed, but they're not very detailed about how or how Apple (and to an extent BOSE and a few others) can continue this practice.
This has been a long-standing practice at Apple, though I don't know when it began, and it has both helped and hurt them at various times. It was especially not useful to them during their period of experimenting with Mac clones when they were severely undercut by their licensees. The licensees had to compete with each other, with PC's and with Apple itself, and they had to get their product into stores and catalogs. And their main market strategy began to mirror that of PC makers: compete in a commodity market with commodity razor-thin margins pricing. In the meantime, "real Macs" stubbornly stayed at full retail, but had no real advantage except in design and then-fading cachet.
So Apple was pinned to the wall by shrinking market share, by a limited OS, by a limited CPU and then another limited CPU (680x0 and then Power PC), by competing with their own licensees, and by a pricing strategy that was diametrically opposed to their licensing strategy. And it almost sunk the company.
Now, as the hottest corp on the planet, and able to use a combination of secrecy about future product releases and high product demand to "clear out the inventory channel," so they never have left-over product TO "close out," a closed Apple with set prices is able to maintain profit margins Dell and HP would kill for, which offsets their relatively smaller sales with enough R&D capital to compete against mass marketing behemoths.
If you don't like Apple's margins, you can always buy a PC, and Apple's in little apparent danger of monopoly prosecution with less than 8% of the personal computer US market share. So while the model's working this well, don't expect any change. And don't expect any "sales" of Apple-branded products at Apple stores.
Which brings us to Amazon, the only company I know of which actually has offered significant price cuts (sometimes in the form of "rebates") across a wide spectrum of Apple products. I once bought a Mac from them at less than the "student" price, and now they're blasting Leopard out at a good discount.
One might suspect that they must account for a significant portion of Apple sales, maybe the biggest of any reseller, and therefore have leverage with Apple Inc. to the point that they can flout Steve's policies without incurring either public wrath or being cut off of their reseller status. Maybe someone else in the thread has more inside details.
But whatever, there's Apple pricing almost everywhere else (but see below) and then there's Amazon Apple pricing.
This may be changing, at least on some software, as this thread contains a link to a smaller seller offering a $40 rebate on Leopard, and I saw a reference to a price of $99 elsewhere, but to date Amazon's the only place I've ever seen a big hardware rebate on Macs.