Five questions for Apple, Adobe and Microsoft at IT pricing inquiry, says consumer watchdog Choice.
Living in Australia can often mean paying up to 88 per cent more for some of the most common IT products.
A parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing which heard testimonies from Apple, Microsoft and Adobe has failed to impress Australian experts.
Choice challenged global technology giants Adobe, Apple and Microsoft to answer five key questions at a recent Federal Parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing, which is looking at why Australians are paying about 50% more for software and hardware1.
“There is no justification for Australians paying more than consumers in the United States for identical products,” says Matt Levey, Head of Campaigns at Choice.
“We have heard all sorts of excuses from the tech companies, like claims that Australian wages, rent and taxes are too high and that our warranties are onerous. Our research shows that none of the excuses stack up and the only conclusion is that the technology companies are greedy.
Dr Matthew Rimmer from the Australian National University (ANU) law school says their testimony failed to surprise or impress. “I thought the inquiry hearing was like the theatre of the absurd,” he said.
“The three companies put forward a range of justifications, defences, spin and evasion.”
“Adobe, Apple and Microsoft had every opportunity to come clean on their dirty deeds,” says Mr Levey.
Each IT giant gave quite different reasons. Microsoft said its current prices are set, and customers can vote with their wallets.
Adobe said it charges an extra $1,000 to download software in Australia because it offers a local, bespoke experience, while Apple blames local copyright holders for its iTunes prices, which are 50 per cent higher than in the United States.
The reasons given to the inquiry failed to impress Matt Levey, “Choice thinks it’s time to end the great Aussie rip-off and stop discriminating against local consumers.”
“You’re talking about a business that’s as large as Apple saying essentially they don’t have any influence over the price that an iTunes product appears in their store,” he said.
The tech giants are using blocking tactics – they were subpoenaed to appear before the inquiry after previously stonewalling, and they are blocking Australians from buying cheaper downloadable products over the internet.”
“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) needs to be unchained,” Dr Rimmer said.
“I think it’s really important the ACCC have the power to investigate where there is anti-competitive conduct involving intellectual property.”
Despite their reservations, critics of the global cyber giants agree the inquiry has been worthwhile.
Choice have published a Guide for Consumers to get around ‘geoblocking’ and other forms of price discrimination. To get a copy of this and more information visit www.choice.com.au.
WHAT CHOICE WANTED TO KNOW
- Why is it costing Australians 70% more to rock out to AC/ DC’s Back in Black on iTunes?
- Why does it cost a graphic designer in Adelaide $3175 to buy Adobe CS6 Design and Web Premium when a creative in Los Angeles only has to pay $US1899?
- Why does it cost a small business in Sydney $599 to buy Microsoft’s Office Professional 2013 when a business in San Francisco only has to pay $US399.99?
- How many of their staff in Australia work on developing software?
- Who sets the pricing on iTunes – Apple or the music and film industry?
“Despite their reservations, critics of the global cyber giants agree the inquiry has been worthwhile.”
1. CHOICE looked at over 200 IT hardware and software products in their submission to the IT Pricing