Apple, Microsoft Probed
Apple and Microsoft are just two of the technology companies that would need to explain why Australians are charged more for software purchases than other overseas customers.
The Parliament has ordered a probe to inquire why tech companies have a different pricing for Australian customers. Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy has officially signed off the inquiry.
In his letter to Sydney MP Ed Husic, Conroy said that Australian households and businesses should have access to IT purchases at a fair price. These purchases include hardware and software like game and music downloads.
The inquiry was welcomed by Choice, a consumer advocate group.
A week ago, Husic revealed that IT companies are charging Aussies more when they buy software online. He showed that a US-based customer would normally pay $199.99 for Microsoft Windows 7 Professional. If a customer buys the same software from an Australian website, he would have to shell out $499, a 125-percent difference.
Technology companies have said that the disparity in the price is because of a number of factors like supply and demand, market size, and overhead costs of support centers. Local taxes and duties are also blamed for the price difference.
Ingrid Just, spokeswoman of Choice, said the move is unacceptable.
The formal inquiry marks the first time when tech companies are called to explain why they sell IT products at exorbitant prices.
Husic said the inquiry should shed light on the situation as more Aussies are wondering why they need to pay more than other overseas customers. He added that the excessive prices would definitely affect small- and medium-based businesses.