Big music labels, steep freight costs and import taxes are being blamed for the higher prices Australians pay for everything from software to songs.
Global technology giants Apple, Microsoft and Adobe copped a caning on Friday at a federal parliamentary inquiry for slugging Australians up to 80 per cent more than people in other countries for their products.
The tech giants offered a range of explanations but failed to impress, with more than one MP branding their responses ‘evasive’.
Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow said it was the global software giant’s right to charge what it thought the market would bear for its products.
‘We don’t operate on a single global price because we don’t believe every market is the same,’ she told the committee in Canberra.
‘We believe we are competing lawfully to win our customers’ business every day.’
But committee deputy chairman, Nationals MP Paul Neville, accused Microsoft of charging what it could ‘get away with in any particular market’.
‘You haven’t offered us any cogent reason other than your company policy why you are charging more in Australia,’ he said.
A recent study by consumer group Choice of 200 hardware and software products found Australians paid on average 50 per cent more than overseas customers.
Apple vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia Tony King said what Australians paid to download digital songs, films and TV shows was determined by arrangements with the music labels, TV networks and movie studios.
Those content owners had different charges for content distributed in different countries.
‘The cards, so to speak, are in the hands of the folks who own the content,’ Mr King said.
Mr King said Apple was more than aware Australians were angry about it.
‘We are hearing comments in Australia that, frankly, make us uncomfortable,’ he said.
Mr King said exchange rates, local freight costs, import duties and local sales taxes also influenced the prices for computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Adobe’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Robson, said Australians were blocked from accessing the software company’s US website – where prices are lower – to offer a more ‘personalised experience’.
Allowing Australians to buy the cheaper, although identical, product from Adobe’s US website would have an impact on global corporations’ willingness to invest in this country, run local operations and employ staff, he said.
Both Adobe and Microsoft talked up the use of cloud computing products, saying they offered more similar pricing between Australian and US customers.
The three technology giants were all called to appear before the committee after refusing to give evidence voluntarily.
Story source: www.bigpond.com