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Australians are advised not to pay full whack for technology

Punters in Oz pay a lot more for IT kit
Mon Jul 29 2013, 10:02

PEOPLE IN AUSTRALIA are being rinsed when they buy consumer technology kit, and are being charged twice as much as their international peers.

The Australian government has produced a report, called "At what cost? IT pricing and the Australia tax", that reflects badly on the pricing policies of some information technology companies.

With people spending almost twice as much for gadgets downunder, the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications said that they shouldn't use the usual channels when buying.

Microsoft, Apple and Adobe each gave evidence to the committee, showing that in some cases people were paying 62 percent higher for stuff in Australia. This, says the report, extends to digital downloads, hardware and software.

Various reasons were given for the discrepancies, including the size of the local market.

More than 50 pieces of hardware were compared, and on average, Australian prices were 46 percent more expensive than in the UK. 150 professional software products were also compared, and they cost 50 percent more.

Microsoft was on average the most expensive, as its products were around two-thirds more costly in Oz. Prices for music, ebooks, and games are all higher too. In the case of the latter, some prices have risen by 84 percent.

Apple products are priced closer to their overseas peers, and the iPad, iMac and Macbook lines are between 10 and 15 per cent more expensive in Australia.

"IT products are woven into the fabric of our economy and society, and have driven rapid change in the way Australians communicate, the way we work, and the way we live," said the report's chairman, MP Nick Champion.

"Australian consumers and businesses, however, must often pay much more for their IT products than their counterparts in comparable economies. In many cases Australians pay 50 to 100 per cent more for the same product."

According to the report Australians are "frustrated and angered", while high prices also make it hard for businesses to compete internationally. High prices, it seems, are so entrenched downunder that they call the practice the "Australia Tax".

However, not far away from Australia are places like Hong Kong and Singapore, where prices are lower, and the internet has a readily available collection of price comparisons. Australians, however, risk busting terms and conditions and warranties by buying off country.

There are a number of suggestions made for Australians that want to get around this, and here the report recommended unlocking phones, or "circumventing geoblocking mechanisms" and educating people and businesses on how to do that.

As a last resort, it said, the Australian government should consider banning geoblocking, so Australians could buy their gear from anywhere. µ


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