updated 06:49 am EST, Mon February 11, 2013
Apple, Microsoft, Adobe receive summons to appear before inquiry
Apple and Microsoft have been forced to front a pricing inquiry in Australia to explain why many of their products are priced up to 50 percent higher than in the US. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the House of Representatives Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has issued a summons to the two tech giants, along with Adobe. If the companies fail to comply with the inquiry, they could face legal ramifications.
The inquiry, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, was initiated after strong lobbying from Australian Labor party MP Ed Husic, who said the action wouldn't have been necessary if the companies had been more forthcoming to previous, non-legal inquiries. "These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches," said Husic. "In what's probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being called by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the US," he added.
Investigations by the Australian consumer group Choice offered evidence to the inquiry showing that Australian consumers can pay up to 50 percent more than their US counterparts for the same music, video games, software and computer hardware. In one extreme example, Choice found that it would be cheaper for an Australian consumer to fly return to the US and purchase a piece of Microsoft enterprise software and still save hundreds of dollars.
Although the Australian dollar has been at or near parity with the US dollar for the past few years, Australians routinely pay at least $16 for an album while the US iTunes store charges only $10 even though the music is distribute digitally. An HD movie on the iTunes Australia store costs $30, while the HD movies on the US store can cost as little as $15. A 64GB iPhone is sold in the US for $849, while Australians will pay least $999, including tax of $91.