Several European countries saw their online Apple stores go down for several hours earlier today, with the familiar yellow sticky note greeting customers in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and others. Some speculated this meant a new product launch, but stores in Asia/Pacific and North America remained up all day. It turns out that in at least one country, the UK, something new did debut on the Apple Store today: higher prices. The increase in the UK's value-added tax (VAT) from 17.5 percent to 20 percent went into effect today, and Apple has raised its UK prices to account for the difference.
In some cases the price rise is relatively modest. A 16 GB iPhone 4 now costs £11 more than it used to, while a 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad costs £10 more. However, MacBook Pro and iMac prices have increased by a minimum of £21, and a Mac Pro will now cost a minimum of £42 more.
Some had expected Apple to eat the cost of the VAT increase and keep its UK prices the same, but a recent GST increase in New Zealand from 12.5 percent to 15 percent saw Apple raising its prices here, too. Though Apple will surely cite "margin preservation" in defense of raising its prices, Apple already charges more for its products in countries outside the US. While there may be economic reasons for doing so, that's hardly comforting to international customers.
It's unclear why the other European stores had to be taken down for a UK price hike; if prices have also risen in your country today, let us know in the comments.
[via Mac Rumors]