The iPad comes to town

I’m a self-confessed technology nerd and an Apple hipster (I liked them and used their products 15 years before they were “cool”). When I came to Rio, I brought my Macbook Air with me and that’s it. It was working great until I started my journey here and the sound stopped working, the battery lost its “juice” and it began to shutdown on its own. The random shutdowns were fixed by three benjamins (converters), one on top of the other, and a healthy use of tape. Since I work from my computer, my current problems have me searching for a replacement. I’m hoping an iPad 2 will do the trick but how do I go about getting one here?

Back in California, I had played with the iPad at the Apple store and didn’t think much of it. I type quite a bit and the virtual keyboard just didn’t sit right with me. Luckily, there are real keyboards that can work with the iPad 2 so that solves that. The price tag back home is US$499 (R$870) for the most basic version of the tablet, coming to around US$600 (R$1000) with tax and the keyboard. In Brazil, together with import taxes and any kind of markup, the same device goes for US$950 (R$1650) alone or US$1100 (R$1900) with a keyboard. Being rather broke, what that all means is I’m out of luck to the tune of US$600, not to mention the additional US$500 hike in “import taxes”, etc.

As for other options, one includes the person receiving the item to have a friend send them a US-bought computing device through the mail and hoping it doesn’t pass through Customs where they might get dinged and have to pay a few hundred dollars to have it released. I’ve heard that anything under US$500 can go through Customs without a problem as long as there’s a receipt that accompanies the item(s). From reading the Customs website, I see that items are taxed at 50% of the amount over US$500, meaning my US$600 investment would be taxed a mere US$50. If that’s correct, then whether it passes through Customs or not, it’s not that much of an issue.

(Correction: As I now understand it, via mail, anything over US$50 gets taxed and anything over US$500, brought in person, is taxed)

My second option would mean waiting until early 2012 when the iPad 2, which will be built domestically by Foxconn Brazil starting in December, will come to the masses here. When President Rousseff took office, one of her promises was to bring tablet devices to the local market at a more affordable price. After looking at the options, it was decided last spring that the iPad would be the best bet. Since then, there have been many hiccups in the process but the latest reports say production plans are back on track.

For both those that have bought their imported iPads at higher prices and those that will soon own the domestic version, I’m hoping the ease of transporting them around town and the lower cost will open up Brazil to the work-from-a-cafe culture that the US has had for several years. I’d love to do such a thing but unfortunately it makes a person stand out a little more than I feel comfortable with.

In the Zona Sul of Rio, some of my American friends have noticed recently that iPads are being used freely by passengers on the metro. Also, some of the Starbucks that have popped up around Rio have started to attract people (aka, table-tenants) who, for the price of a coffee, stay as long as possible. Last time I checked, at the Botafogo mall, the entire seating area was full, all with people typing away at their laptops and iPhones. Together with the coming of the Brazilian iPad, it’s a sign that the times are starting to change…well, at least in Rio de Janeiro.

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10 thoughts on “The iPad comes to town

  1. have a friend bring you one from the states. they’ll just pay tax on the >$500 part. make sure they do declare it or you will get socked with a fine too. i am betting that even after foxconn gets into production the iPads here will be outrageously priced. There is no competition for locally made tablets and thus they will charge almost as much as one imported from outside.

  2. I needed to replace my cruddy old notebook with a proper laptop recently and just had a friend bring it over from the UK. They took it out of the packaging but brought everything else (manuals, cables, etc) with them and there was no tax, no declarations required. Can’t you just do that? If asked, they say it is theirs and they are taking it back with them when they return home. A bit naughty, but who’s going to know?

    • I did that with my ex in 2007 but they kept one of them…meaning she brought two new ones and I think I said one was mine, but that didn’t matter, they were brand new and out of the box and Customs wouldn’t budge. They held it until we left the country.

      • They get suspicious when its more than one of anything? But in America that is the norm. That is what they don’t understand or care about. I have 3 computers, a Nikon, a video camera, a laptop. People in American have 3 tvs and iphones, ipads, ipods. We are Americans not Brazilians we can buy this stuff at reasonable prices.

        I understand if they see 10 ipads going through customs then their is possibility of selling. But like I said we have lots of technology and we have access to it. They don’t.

        Brazil just wants to make money on tax. And what they do with all the money they make by ripping there citizens off with these taxes I have yet to see go to improving there standard of living. I meant they have been doing it for a while. The tax money is going into someone’s pocket. They say they tax imports because they can’t compete. But they don’t seem to do anything to change the ridiculous outdated laws of their country so they can compete. The cost of doing business in Brazil makes companies simply choose to do business somewhere else.

      • Verdade skarrlette… this habit won’t be changing anytime soon either — as long as the Brasil economy is doing well there is no incentive to examine these policies. What will happen next is predictable: growth will be impeded by the heavy and wasteful tax scheme; Brazilian companies will look for ways to do their job outside of the country.

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