European Apple fans protest at pricing

An online petition has been set up to put pressure on Cupertino to bring European prices in line with their US equivalents

Apple's "most affordable" Mac -- the Mac mini -- has drawn a storm of protest from European shoppers, who are petitioning Cupertino to bring EU pricing better in line with that of the US.

The online petition states: "We'd like to make an appeal to Apple on the pricing of the new Mac mini in the European Union. Basing on the last long-term rate of exchange of US dollars to euros (and vice versa) - which is 1.3293 on the spot market, so let's say 1.32 - both announced prices of the Mac mini in Europe, €489 and €589, respectively, are much too high."

The petition also states that German users come off particularly badly in the pricing stakes, with an extra €50 for the lower spec Mac mini and €60 for the higher spec machine.

The petition's writers also claim the higher EU pricing is counterproductive for Apple's business strategy and would serve to discourage potential PC to Mac switchers.

So far, the petition has attracted over 2,000 signatures from across the European Union.

One petitioner, 'Ronald', wrote "Europe is as big a market as the United States, so the prices should be similar!" Another, Walter Vermeir, added: "I like the Mac but not the price."

UK customers will also be forced to pay more than their counterparts across the Atlantic. The cheaper Mac mini sells for $499 in the US -- around £268. However, to buy the same Mac in the UK would cost £339.

One UK resident, Steve Netting, who signed the petition, said: "We always get ripped off in the UK. Would be great to finally see a company treating us as equals."

It's not the first time Apple has faced the ire of customers over differences in European pricing.

In December, the Office of Fair Trading referred a complaint over the iTunes music store to the European Commission, claiming the almost 10p difference between the prices UK and EU customers pay is discriminatory.

Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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