Conroy announces tech price inquiry

Australian Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy has announced a parliamentary inquiry into high product prices in the Australian IT and technology sector.

Conroy made the announcement yesterday, after being approached by Labor MP and federal member for Chifley Ed Husic.

Husic told parliament last month that companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Canon and Lenovo have failed to address consumer demands and inquiries about the high cost of both hardware and software in Australia compared to other territories.

The parliamentary inquiry will focus on why Australian consumers are paying more for tech products and video games by seeking public submissions from both consumers and companies, with the aim of providing the government with possible legal options to deal with the issue.

Speaking to ZDNet Australia's sister site, GameSpot AU, Husic said that he welcomes Conroy's efforts to look into the high cost of tech products in Australia.

"I'm hoping companies will take this opportunity to explain their pricing in Australia," Husic said. "This will also give consumers the chance to talk about how this affects them."

Husic says he hopes companies like Microsoft and Apple will respond to consumer concerns and lower their prices, rather than wait to be forced into action by the law.

"The best response to this would be companies recognising that this is what consumers want, and adjust their pricing accordingly. If this inquiry finds examples of consumers being ripped off, I imagine the ACCC will become very interested."

Commissioner Ed Willett from the ACCC was questioned on the issue at the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network last week.

"Over time, information technology will mean it will be harder and harder for particular service providers to maintain higher prices for products in Australia compared to overseas," Willett told the committee.

"I think that model that we have seen in the past in a number of services has been exacerbated by the value of the dollar, and that has made those comparisons even more stark. I think those sort of practices will be harder and harder to sustain. But certainly, the commission will be pretty keen to ensure that those sort of differences are not supported by contraventions of the Act."

Via GameSpot AU

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gregory.opera posted a comment   


Stephen Conroy is just another "notch on the post" of Australians who said they'd do something about this... In my 30 years, not one has followed-through.

Wake me up when someone actually DOES something...


MatthewP6 posted a comment   

These companies hide behind the arguments of: geography, shipping, population, small market, etc. However, when you are dealing with digital content such arguments become irrelevant. I won't go so far as to suggest price gouging, as that has legal ramifications; but what I would say is that Australia is seen as a wealthy country with a high average income - globally speaking. Therefore Aussies can "afford" to pay more - so their thinking goes.

You get this everywhere. Go to Beijing where they have no concept of price-tags. Walk into a store as a foreigner, even Chinese whose Mandarin is obviously a second language, and suddenly you are forced to face an inflated price, with no price tag to guage actual prices from. "Cashed up foreigners".

An inquiry by the Australian government will achieve nothing, as Australia is a minnow on the global platform of trade. What do we do: boycott these companies? The loss of revenue to Apple, HP, Microsoft, Adobe, etc., would be miniscule.

As reported here at Cnet, Adobe CS6 will cost US consumers US$2549, and in Australia it will be AU$3949. GST my foot!

I think Australia is more-or-less "over a barrel" on this issue.

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