For technology and software like tablets and the apps that run on them, different regions around the world see different prices for the same content, sometimes leaving customers wondering whether they’re getting ripped off in comparison to places like the United States. In Australia, tech products cost so much more than their overseas counterparts that Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have been summoned before the country’s parliament for an inquiry on March 22 into exactly how the IT giants set their prices, a move which has prompted a flurry of criticism of the companies, and could result in new regulations.
With price differences sometimes running up to 80 percent higher for Australians compared to the U.S., politicians are demanding an explanation for the inflated costs, especially in the case of digital goods like music downloads that should not be affected by shipping or stocking costs.
From Techno Buffalo:
MP Ed Husic, a member of the investigating committee, believes it’s time to bring in the most uncooperative of offenders.
“These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches. In what’s probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being summonsed by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the US.”
Software developer Adobe has been especially scrutinized for the price of Creative Suite set of programs (which include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, other applications), which costs up to $1,400 more in Australia compared to the U.S. In fact, an Australian website determined it would be cheaper to buy a plane ticket to the U.S. and back to purchase the software both in digital and packaged form.
Adobe recently cut the prices of their software in response to the inquiry summons, but many members of the Australian press aren’t satisfied. At a press event in Sydney this week, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen dodged questions about from journalists grilling him on the higher price of the company’s Creative Suite software, seen in the video below.
Business writers and analysts in Australia believe the pricing debate touches on a number of key weaknesses in the country’s economy, primarily due to a lack of competition made worse by an unwillingness on the part of consumers to buy anything other than major brand names.
The inquiry in March, however, could produce prompt some action from Australian lawmakers, which could include anything from larger reforms of how debt is handled, to legislation that would make it easier to circumvent the region-locks placed on cheaper U.S. software and media.