Microsoft, Apple to be asked by Parliament on why they charge so much in Australia

By on

Image: Mark Pegrum/OzMark17 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Apple and Microsoft, among other tech companies, have been called to Canberra to explain why Australians are being charged much more on software, music and games in comparison to other nations, according to a new report.

Wait, Parliament doing something? (Okay, that might not be fair, they have done some good work – such as the R18+ laws)

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, has already signed off on a parliamentary inquiry that will examine the pricing policies of software and “other IT-related materials”. The exact terms of reference on the inquiry have not been finalised, but the price of e-books could be examined if any issues of price differences between Australia and other markets are raised.

Leading the charge for such an inquiry has been Ed Husic, a Labor MP in Sydney, who took issue with the “price discrimination” – citing Adobe’s pricing structure where a digital download for Photoshop CS5 Extended cost $999 in the US, but $1,671 in Australia.

Adobe hasn’t helped itself when it was revealed that the latest edition of Adobe’s Creative Suite programs would see Australians also being charged more – this is despite the fact that the Australian dollar is basically on parity with the United States dollar.

“From my perspective, the most commonsense approach would have been for the companies to set out in their own terms why they price their products in Australia differently from other parts of the world. Instead of doing that, IT vendors have not only remained mute, they keep aggravating Australian consumers,” he said in a parliamentary speech in March.

“Let us be clear about this: IT vendors are demonstrating they will price differently here because we will cop it or they think we will keep quiet about it.”

Talking to SMH, Choice’s spokeswoman Ingrid Just said that they welcomed the move.

“The excuses overseas technology companies used to justify the higher prices, such as the small size of the market, the cost of setting up support centres and the imposition of local taxes and duties, were not acceptable,” she said.

Well, if nothing is resolved, then we can all look forward in many Australians continuing to pirate the software that is overpriced. And trust me, if Australians are fed up of waiting for new series because broadcasters air them later than their American counterparts, or end up pulling them to air in the summer; then they’re sort of fed up with the overcharging as well.