Tech

Australia Summons Apple And Microsoft To Explain High Prices

By Jordan Mammo email: j.mammo@itechpost.com , Feb 11, 2013 11:42 AM EST

Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe are headed to court in Australia.

The Australian Parliament has issued subpoenas of all three companies in an effort to get them to explain why the prices for their products are significantly higher in the island nation than in the United States, United Kingdom, and other Asian countries.

This investigation into the tech giants has been going on since last July, but executives have yet to give the Australian government specific answers, forcing it to summon them to court.

"The Committee is looking at the impacts of prices charged to Australian consumers for IT products. Australian consumers often pay much higher prices for hardware and software than people in other countries," said the lower house committee on infrastructure and communications in a press release, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If any of the three companies fail to present themselves at the public hearing, they will face legal penalties.

Previously, executives have turned down invitations to appear at a hearing in person, choosing instead to write their explanations. The subpoenas represent a parliament growing tired of getting the run-around.

"Adobe, Apple and Microsoft are just a few firms that have continually defied the public's call for answers and refused to appear before the IT Pricing Inquiry," said Ed Hisuc, a House of Representatives member from the Labor Party, to Kotaku Australia. "While television and computer prices fell 14 percent according the to the latest Consumer Price Index Figures, there's still a long way to go - with some estimates suggesting that Australian prices are up to 60 per cent higher than the US."

Husic has been a fierce advocate against price gouging and hopes to lower the prices of electronic software in his country. The strength of the Australian dollar against U.S. currency should lead to lower prices for imported products, but many consumer groups say that is not the case with software from companies like Apple and Microsoft.

The companies themselves made no comment on the announcement, but in the past other electronic companies based in Australia have blamed increased prices on shrinking margins and higher salaries.

Alan Kirkland, chief executive officer of the consumer group Choice, doesn't sympathize when he looks at software prices overseas.

"Australians are waking up to the fact that we are being ripped off. We believe it's time that these companies realize this and start pricing fairly in the Australian market," he said.

The hearing will take place on March 22.

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