Apple, Microsoft, Adobe Called By Lawmakers To Defend Higher Prices In Australia

Three American companies-Apple, Microsoft and Adobe-have been summoned by the Australian Parliament to explain why they charge higher prices Down Under than in other countries.

The three companies were called by the House Committee On Infrastructure And Communications to appear as part of an ongoing probe regarding the disparity in tech pricing. The inquiry started in May 2012 to examine “whether a difference in prices exists between IT hardware and software products, including computer games and consoles, e-books and music and videos sold in Australia over the Internet or in retail outlets as compared to markets in the U.S., UK and economies in the Asia-Pacific.”

Ed Husic, a member of the Australian House of Representatives, says that some estimates suggest Australian prices on some products are up to 60 percent higher than in the U.S. Husic told Kotaku Australia that “in what’s probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being summonsed by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to in the U.S. Adobe, Apple and Microsoft are just a few firms that have continually defied the public’s call for answers and refused to appear before the IT Pricing Inquiry.”

This is the latest development in a long-running dispute between Australian lawmakers and U.S. tech companies over unequal pricing. Back in August 2011, Apple Australia managing director Tony King agreed to speak with Husic about higher tech prices in Australia. MacRumors says pricing disparities back then included the MacBook Air, which was 15% more expensive in Australia and some software, like Adobe’s CS5.5 Design Premium, which was nearly 75% more expensive even when accounting for currency exchange. Husic said, however, that he had struggled to pin down a meeting with Apple reps and the Cupertino-based company was accused of “snubbing” Australian consumers, media and the Parliament by continuing their pricing strategy. According to the Australian Financial Review, Apple blames “layers of Australian taxes, warranties and copyright holders for higher local prices.”