A highly expected tech gadget is landing in Singapore, and many consumers believe they have to pay a higher price for it here compared to the United States. Pre-order prices for the Nintendo Switch appear to have got some gamers in a tizzy after they were announced by retailers earlier this month. The Japanese game company’s latest console, a hybrid handheld console with a dock to connect to the television set, will be available on March 3.
The Switch console alone can be bought from Amazon Japan for roughly $400 which included shipping fees. However, it goes for US$299 in the United States without shipping. Local retailers have listed Nintendo Switch bundles at $600 to $700, though local distributor Maxsoft has not officially announced prices.
If you know where to look and local warranty isn’t crucial, electronic goods such as TV sets and graphics cards can be cheaper elsewhere than in Singapore. The local pricing of the Switch also seems egregious compared with current consoles from Sony and Microsoft. The Xbox One starts at $319 while the Sony PlayStation 4 Slim at $449 on the Microsoft Store. Both of these consoles also propose more powerful hardware and a larger game library as they have been out for a while.
Unexpectedly, online commentators have suggested that buyers here should import from overseas, despite the lack of warranty coverage. This was exactly what I did in 2013 when I bought the Sony PlayStation 4 console from Amazon. The online retailer was selling it at US$399, which, at that time, was around S$500. The same console in Singapore then retailed at $639. Free shipping to Singapore sealed the deal. This was before a change in Amazon’s shipping policy. The Switch also charges via a USB Type-C port, which means those who already have an adaptable charger for their laptops and phones probably do not even need a power plug converter for an overseas set.
The issue of higher prices isn’t confined to Singapore. A few years ago, Australia made global headlines for its high software prices. A consumer watchdog estimated that it was actually cheaper for an Aussie to fly to the US to buy Microsoft and Adobe software than to purchase it locally. A parliamentary committee investigation subsequently found that Australians paid up to 50 percent more for technology software and hardware, compared to the US.
I understand why distributors and retailers need to mark up prices. But when price discrepancies get large, people may speculate that their units will not need servicing for a year. Having imported many gadgets without getting a dud, I, for one, will take my chances and continue hunting for the best deals.