Australian Price Gouging Inquiry Targets Apple, Microsoft And Others

Getting a new laptop or buying a new license for an operating system is often cheaper in the U.S. than in most other countries. Europeans, for example, are used to paying a hefty premium for Apple products and the situation is similar in Australia, where the cheapest MacBook Air currently costs about 15% more than in the United States. Now, however, the Australian government is starting a parliamentary inquiry into these pricing schemes. According to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, the politicians behind this inquiry hope that calling these companies out publicly will result in prices dropping.

The final details of this inquiry are still being finalized, says the Sydney Morning Herald, but the committee that will oversee the proceedings plans to invite “all the big computer and software companies including Apple and Microsoft.” The committee will also look at the price differences in eBooks and games in different markets.

Ed Husic, a member of the Australian Parliament and a member of the committee that has been asking for this investigation for the last year or so, argues that “small to medium-sized businesses might pay over $10,000 more on software compared to overseas counterparts.”

The standard argument for higher prices in these markets is that local taxes and the cost of setting up overseas operations increase cost, which are then passed on to local consumers. According to a report by Australia’s Productivity Commission, however, “these excuses, in most cases are not persuasive, especially in the case of downloaded music, software and videos, for example, where the costs of delivery to the customer are practically zero and uniform around the world.”

[Image credit: Sydney Morning Herald]