In an enquiry which could likely have happened as easily in any other country outside USA, Microsoft and Apple (amongst others) has been asked to explain why Australians are charged higher prices for the same media, be it music or game downloads, than US customers.
This is particularly irksome when often no actual localization is taking place, as may be the case with music, or the costs for localization has already been borne by the developer, such as in games.
A Productivity Commission report found company excuses such as the smaller Australian market ”in most cases are not persuasive, especially in the case of downloaded music, software and videos where the costs of delivery … are practically zero and uniform around the world”.
”People here scratch their heads trying to work out why they get fleeced on software downloads,” said Sydney MP Ed Husic. ”When the Productivity Commission asked IT companies why they charge so much for downloads, even they found the answers were not persuasive.”
Technology commentator Trevor Long said: ”As time rolls on, every single one of the Australian arms of those global companies will realise that Australian consumers are getting their products elsewhere. ‘People are already setting up, in droves, addresses in the US just so they are able to download a piece of American software at American prices.”
Labor MPs hope publicity generated by challenging the companies will result in lower prices and put an end to local consumers being ”fleeced”. The inquiry will begin later this year and be conducted by the House of Representatives standing committee on infrastructure and communications.