Apple and Microsoft are in hot waters after the Australian Parliament has decided to investigate why customers in the land down under have pricier bills than other markets when it comes to media file downloads.
Stephen Conroy, Minister for Communications in Australia, has officially commenced the parliamentary inquiry in an effort to induce publicity and influence price reduction by demanding an explanation from companies on their pricing policies in online stores, such as Apple iTunes.
The investigation will also expand to other issues concerning allegations over Apple’s price fixing of electronic books.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Conroy, in his letter to Sydney MP Ed Husic, said,
There is evidence to suggest that the innovative use of technology is not always matched with innovative new business models in the case of products and services distributed online.
I agree that Australian businesses and households should have access to IT software and hardware that is fairly priced relative to other jurisdictions … the global digital economy is likely to make it increasingly difficult to sustain business models that are based on a geographic carve-up of markets.
Husic, a committee member who has repeatedly raised concerns of differences in prices for over a year, gladly accepted the decision and said the inquiry will be a first for US technology firms to explain their pricing policies.
Justifications for high prices, which include small market size, expenses for support centres, and imposition of local taxes and duties, are inacceptable for Australian consumer advocate Choice.
The Australian Parliament inquiry is in the works and will start later this year. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications will conduct the probe.