Australian’s Gouged in IT Prices
I have been in the IT industry since the mid 1990s. Back then you needed to buy software from local stores, Universities and books from book stores. I am not going to go down the nostalgia path not at all, but I am going down the path of once upon a time we needed to get these products physically shipped to Australia, which meant there was always a premium in prices.
Now days, we are connected, we can see what the rest of the world is paying and here we don’t like it. If walking down to the local store, buy a boxed copy of some software, or the book store versions of books, once again I am expecting to pay a little premium for the service of getting it then and there. But digital downloads means something different, yes, I can get it right here right now, but the price premium is not the thing it should be.
Once upon a time our dollar was not worth as much as it is now, against the US dollar, it was $0.50 now it is above parity ($1.03 at the time I am writing this @14 Feb 2013) so, if it costs US$60 over in the US, it means for the same item in Australia I should really only pay the price in Australian dollars, AU$57.89. Though the bank throws in a AU$2.50 conversion fee, but not much we can do about this. But, for that same item, we are paying AU$90. This is in a digital download capacity.
The Australian Government started a House of Representatives Committee hearing into the costs Australians pay for products in comparison to our US counterparts especially for digital downloads. The 3 worst offenders, though there are some others I am not sure have been put up there, do you hear me VMWare. That said, Apple, Microsoft and Adobe, have some of the most expensive software and certainly the highest margins over the US on anything else. Apple refused to come, because Apple refused to come, Microsoft and Adobe also said, well if Apple aren’t going, neither are we. Well a summons has been sent to Apple, Microsoft and Adobe to order them to the public hearing in Canberra, 22 March 2013.
Just how bad is it? Well Apple are considered the worst offenders with the costs of their music and movies and TV shows (and not everything you can get in the US either) is always more expensive, despite it being the exact same media. But the single worst offender, as in products is Microsoft, so much so their product Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN costs US$13,299. In Australia it costs AU$21,202, that is a massive increase of AU$7,903. Giving a AU$1 to US$1 comparison. That is huge and you are placed into a situation where all of these products are downloadable form the MS site. So, they all would be a single source for the same media. I can get on a plane, fly to the US (Los Angeles) for about AU$700 on way, AU$1400 return, buy it over there and fly back, economy fair. I would be curious to know their reasoning behind this difference.
But I have noticed though, in the last few days, since they have been summonsed, Adobe have reduced the cost of some of their subscription services for their products, (which are similar on offering to the MS products in you pay a costs per month or year), but in the US it costs US$49.99 per month, for their Creative Cloud which is their entire suite of products. After being told to front the committee the price for Australians is now, wait for it, AU$49.99. This was AU$62.99 a month.
But this isn’t on all products, it is only on their subscriptions their most popular product, Photoshop CS6 (current version) is US$699 for the full product download here it is AU$1,062, more than $300 difference. Nice to know we are still able to get screwed over. This too is for the downloaded product.
What can all this mean in the end. Well, it would be nice to know why we are getting screwed, once and for all, by these companies. I would be nice for them to simply say, because we can, even though that is the reason.
At the end of the day, a report will be tabled, it will be noted down and nothing will come of it. The Australian Government is a little limp when it comes to forcing larger companies to do something that isn’t favourable with the company. Breaking the law, fine, but asking us to pay more isn’t a crime, so. So in the end we will be in the same position as before, the difference is, we may know as opposed to just assuming we are being screwed.