Have you ever wondered why a track on iTunes that costs $0.99 in the US costs $2.99 in Australia? It may seem like one of those bullshit things that we have to get used to, being so far away from the musical hubs of the world, but when you really think about it…it makes no sense at all, which is why iTunes has been summoned to Canberra to explain exactly why and how, in these times of a global economy, this is happening.
According to Billboard, iTunes will be just one of the tech giants that will need to explain their pricing mechanisms to Australia’s Parliament as a result of a probe initiated by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, which was formed in 2012. Microsoft and Adobe are also set to also explain their price disparities in the hearing.
According to consumer rights advocates Choice – who have been barking up this tree for some time – the summonses are welcome news, with spokesperson Ingrid Just stating, “When we reported to the Productivity Commission in May of last year, we found the top 12 music albums cost on average 73% more on the Australian iTunes Store than the US iTunes Store.”
“We’ve been reporting on geographical pricing for years. And we’re certainly pleased there is going to be a spotlight shone on the issue. Companies point to differences in operational costs working in a smaller economy. But the question is whether those differences add up to 50-75% price increases here, versus if you’re sitting at a computer overseas.”
iTunes has essentially monopolised the digital music sales in Australia, controlling 70% of the market since they debuted Down Under in 2005.
It would also seem that Australian fans aren’t the only ones who have been hard done by. The UK’s Office of Fair Trading recommended the European Commission look into why the UK were paying more than their European neighbours for tracks, but that case was closed before taking off.