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Australia to quiz tech giants on pricing

Warwick Ashford

The Australian parliament has summoned Microsoft, Apple and Adobe to appear before a committee investigating pricing.

Australian consumer groups claim that some goods are more expensive in Australia than elsewhere in the world, with some estimates putting prices at up to 60% higher than the US according to the BBC.

A 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad  sells in Australia for $40 above the price in the US and Microsoft's latest versions of Office 365 home premium sells for $22.51 above the cost in the US, according to Reuters.

The House of Representatives launched a probe into the matter in July last year.

The world’s largest technology companies have already made written submissions to the committee investigating pricing, but have so far declined to appear in person.

But now they are due to appear before the committee on 22 March to determine if the prices paid for hardware and software are fair.

Failure to appear before the committee could leave all three firms open to contempt of parliament charges, fines or even jail terms.

MPs have said that given the widespread use of IT across businesses and the community, the prices paid for hardware and software can have a major commercial and economic impact.

Some have said that reducing any price discrimination should be an important micro-economic priority for Australia.

Historically, IT firms and other multinationals have blamed higher prices on higher operating costs in Australia including high local wages, import costs and the relatively small size of the retail market.


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