[ad] The service leader for Cloud is now in Australia. Secure, reliable cloud and managed hosting all backed by 24x7x365 Fanatical Support. Create your free account now.
Buy an Seagate Business Storage NAS for your chance to win a holiday
[ad] Purchase a selected Seagate Business Storage NAS to receive a $20 cash-back AND go into the draw to win a $1,000 Flight Centre voucher so you can holiday in the destination of your choice. T&Cs apply.
Great articles on other sites
- Xbox One smashes sales records
- Tech leaders call for speed, ubiquity in NBN rollout
- AIIA urges Hockey to tackle taxes
- IBM accuses Qld govt of trying to ‘rewrite history’
- Newlease undergoes reverse takeover to score ASX listing
- Australia Post loses battle | The Australian
- Start-ups leap at Telstra's accelerator
- Labor won't hand over NBN advice to Turnbull
- Adelaide Uni on hiring blitz for tech transformation
- Human Services to cut 56 IT jobs
How mobile and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy
[ad] How will the adoption of mobile devices and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy? Are you reaching your organisation's customers through these touch points? Click here to download a whitepaper by Fifth Quadrant examining consumer and business attitudes to these new contact channels.
50 things top IT pros need to know
[ad] This 18 page TechRepublic whitepaper explores 10 things you should know to become an epic IT manager, 40 other essential tips to advance your IT career and practical guidance for starting an IT consulting business. Click here to access the whitepaper.
Featured, News - Written by Renai LeMay on Thursday, August 18, 2011 11:13 - 41 Comments
Labor MP wants ACCC enquiry into Aussie tech tax
news Federal Labor MP Ed Husic has widened his complaint about price markups on Apple products in Australia to include other vendors such as Adobe, Microsoft and Lenovo, raising the possibility that an enquiry could be held into the matter by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The member for Chifley first raised the matter in Parliament in late March, noting he would write to Apple Australia managing director Tony King on the matter. The MP linked the debate to the issue of online retailing, noting that many consumers knew that the instant they got on the internet, they could easily see the price differentials that existed between products bought in Australia and those purchased overseas. However, in a follow-up speech last night (Hansard PDF), Husic noted Apple had not responded.
“Amazingly, at the time, I was quietly warned by IT journalists and consumers not to expect a response,” he said. “Chase them up I did; my office followed them up a number of times. They promised that by 16 July, Apple Australia’s managing director Tony King would personally respond to the concerns raised in March once he returned from leave.”
In the meantime, Husic noted, Apple had started reducing the prices it charged Australians for buying apps through its iTunes store, bringing the nation more into line with US pricing — a move he congratulated them for at the time.
“Yet only a week later, it became clear that Apple was not going to move on the issue,” the MP added. “Tech website Delimiter reported that Apple was set to hit consumers again. Its new MacBook Air was estimated to cost up to $300 more than US consumers would have to pay, and the new Apple Thunderbolt display would cost up to $270 more.”
“July 16 came and went. Apple refused to respond, and I am staggered by their behaviour; they’ve snubbed consumer, media and parliamentary interest in this matter.” Apple has repeatedly been invited by Delimiter to respond to Husic’s comments, and the broader issue of pricing, but has not done so.
Husic also noted he was concerned about the issue of what he described as “glaring price differentials” with respect to other “culprits”, naming Lenovo, which slugged Australians with a $560 markup on its ThinkPad X1 laptop when it was released locally in May, Microsoft, which heavily marked up its Office 365 product in Australia when it launched several months ago, and Adobe, which has regularly marked up its Creative Suite products substantially upon launch in Australia, describing some of the prices as “incredible”.
The three vendors have this morning been invited to comment on the matter of their Australian pricing, and on whether they would welcome an enquiry into the matter.
Video game retailers were also mentioned by Husic, with the MP stating that Australians paid “up to 60 percent more” for the same games than residents in the United States.
The MP also highlighted comments recently made by the Productivity Commission in its recent draft report into the retail sector. Like Husic, the Commission singled out Apple, as well as a number of other suppliers, for their higher Australian pricing, noting that arguments for marking up products for sale in Australia because of different market conditions were “not persuasive”, especially when it came to downloaded music, software and videos — where the distribution cost was negligible.
Husic last night said Australians should not be “fleeced for the sake of Silicon Valley’s bottom line”. “These companies would simply not do this to consumers in their home countries. Why do it in ours?” he asked. The MP said he had raised the matter within the Federal Government, and believed the Productivity Commission’s views on the matter were compelling.
“If IT companies are not prepared to be transparent about their pricing decisions, then perhaps it is time for our pricing watchdog, the ACCC, to take up the case for long-suffering consumers and carry out a formal inquiry into why these prices differ so wildly,” said Husic.
There’s no doubt that Husic’s comments here have a great deal of legitimacy. The term “Australian technology tax”, which has come into popular use over the past year or so, reflects a growing sentiment within the nation’s technology community that there is sparse justification for charging Australians more than our US cousins for the exact same technology goods.
The issue is particularly contentious, as Husic noted, when you consider prices around software, music and video content, which is usually downloaded from the exact same sources online but often slapped with a markup for Australians. It’s common practice for online outlets such as the iTunes store, Valve’s Steam gaming platform, Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform, Adobe’s web site and others to charge Australians more for the exact same content from the exact same server.
It’s possible, of course, to argue that Husic is just one MP who’s got a bee in his bonnet about this particular issue — and he’s a fairly new MP, having been elected last year during the 2010 Federal Election. However, the politician is, after all, part of Labor, who currently holds power, and he personally has a deep history within the Australian union movement which suggests he is not without influence within this side of politics.
Industry observers may remember Husic as the former national president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, one of Telstra’s main unions. In this role Husic was no stranger to taking on the big technology companies.
In addition, there is no doubt that this issue will simply not go away. Over the past few years, although the trend of globalisation has continued to mean increasingly uniform delivery of products and services internationally, pricing has not followed suit outside the US, leading to a deep-held frustration about the issue in countries such as Australia.
With the possible exception of Labor’s Internet filter project, I would argue that this issue is one of the issues that Australia’s technology community is most angry about at the moment — and that anger will not dissipate until vendors start implementing more just pricing structures locally.
Among others, I’m tired of hearing stories from readers who have flown to the US, taken a few days’ vacation and picked up a few copies of needed Adobe software, then flown back and still come out ahead compared with what they would have spent if they had bought the same software in Australia. This should not be possible … and yet right now, it certainly is.
Latest Delimiter 2.0 articles (subscriber content)
|Politicians from Australia’s major parties need to stop issuing ludicrous blanket pardons for the intelligence community’s ongoing misdemeanours and start applying a basic modicum of transparency and accountability to this important national security function.|
|The independent pro-fibre National Broadband Network movement is doing a far better job of promoting Labor’s Fibre to the Premises-based NBN policy than Labor itself. When is Labor going to wake from its slumber and start supporting this scrappy but energetic grassroots network of activists?|
|Ziggy Switkowski's first substantial public appearance since being appointed NBN Co chief executive has starkly demonstrated just how different he is from his predecessor, Mike Quigley, and just how strictly he will adhere to the guidelines which his patron, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has set for him.|
|Australian technology companies have been virtually absent from the the nation’s public stockmarket over the past decade as the stigma of the dot com bust took its toll on investor confidence. But a clutch of new listings planned for the closing months of 2013 shows renewed interest in the sector and that local entrepreneurs are smelling money in the air once again.|
|NBN Co’s Strategic Review process gives the company an unmissable opportunity to re-evaluate the early decision to deploy its FTTP network primarily through Telstra’s underground ducts. The company and its new Coalition masters must now seriously consider deploying more fibre aerially on power poles in an effort to speed up its rollout substantially.|
|That moment which many Australian technologists fervently hoped for but never expected to see has come to pass: Simon Hackett has been appointed to the board of the National Broadband Network Company. But what questions should the Internode founder be asking NBN Co’s executive management team? Here’s five ideas to start with.|
|The rapid replacement of respected NBN Co chief operating officer Ralph Steffens with a Telstra executive who appears less experienced with fibre rollouts but better politically connected represents a key signal that NBN Co’s senior executive hiring process has now become completely politicised and is no longer independent from the Federal Government.|
Enterprise IT, News - Dec 10, 2013 17:23 - 2 Comments
More In Enterprise IT
- David Boyle appointed NAB CIO
- Qld payroll lawsuit ‘rewriting history’, says IBM
- Harbour City Ferries goes Microsoft across the board
- Payroll disaster: Queensland sues IBM
- End of an era: Oracle Australia’s ‘safe hands’ leaves
News, Telecommunications - Dec 10, 2013 18:16 - 21 Comments
More In Telecommunications
- Telstra 4G trials hit 300Mbps
- “Captain of the Titanic”: Turnbull mocks Quigley’s NBN tenure
- NBN Co still has 1Gbps on way
- Delimiter appeals Turnbull Blue Book censorship
- Final closure: TPG buys AAPT for $450m
Blog, Industry, Startups - Dec 10, 2013 10:19 - 0 Comments
More In Industry
- Telstra shares millions with Box
- The Australian IT sector needs a stronger voice
- Xbox One goes off with a bang … but will the PS4 launch eclipse it?
- It’s not just Freelancer: Aussie tech IPOs are back in general
- Freelancer’s IPO: A billion reasons to care
Digital Rights, News - Dec 10, 2013 18:57 - 0 Comments
More In Digital Rights
- Telstra ‘not logging’ customers’ web, email history
- Labor, Coalition reject Intelligence committee reformation
- Screwed: Australian PS4, Xbox One lack basic functionality
- Censored: Appeal for AG’s Blue Book fails
- Senate to force TPP publication