Hot on the heels of the iPhone 4S announcement, the fight against higher prices for Apple products in Australia has a new ally in the New South Wales trading minister. However, given the falling dollar, it almost seems too little, too late and too targeted.
NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts has used Apple's iPhone 4S announcement to lend his political weight to call for the tech giant to price products in the Australian iTunes store comparatively to the US store.
"With the Australian dollar having spent many months well above or close to parity with the US dollar, it has become increasingly obvious that Australian consumers are getting short shrift in regards to the pricing of many Apple products," Roberts said.
"With digital downloads, cost considerations such as transport and rent neither explain nor justify the price difference."
I agree, there really is no excuse and Roberts' statement is only following the script laid out by Federal Labor MP Ed Husic, who has been speaking out against price differences for some time. The Productivity Commission also said in August that the "Australia tax" was hurting local retailers.
But you have to wonder, why — when the Aussie dollar has fallen from highs of US$1.10 to one-year lows of US$0.95 today — Roberts waited so long to have a go at Apple for the price difference?
And why just Apple? Adobe, Microsoft and a number of other tech companies are just as guilty of charging excessive amounts to Australian customers.
Given the timing around the iPhone 4S announcement, it all feels rather opportunistic.
It would have been better to have seen politicians from all sides of politics driving this issue when the Aussie dollar was on the up and up. If we keep heading on the downward spiral, the difference in pricing may not be the issue it has been and — worse still — some companies may end up using Robert's campaign as an excuse to raise prices.