Aussie Surface, Xbox Music pricing more 'realistic': Husic

Microsoft has unveiled the Australian pricing for its Surface tablet, and Labor MP Ed Husic has said that for once, it has dodged the "Australia Tax".
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

Microsoft has unveiled the Australian pricing for its Surface tablet and, for once, it is at a level that gives Australians a fair go, according to Labor MP Ed Husic.

The Redmond, Washington-based company announced that it would begin pre-orders from today, and that retailers are expected to charge AU$559 for the 32GB tablet without a Touch Cover keyboard, AU$679 for the 32GB version with a Touch Cover keyboard, and AU$789 for a 64GB tablet with a Touch Cover keyboard. It doesn't appear possible to order a 64GB tablet without a Touch Cover keyboard at this point in time.

In contrast, US pricing starts at US$499 (32GB, no keyboard), steps up to US$599 (32GB, includes keyboard), and on to US$699 (64GB, includes keyboard).

  US Price Australian Price
32GB Surface without keyboard US$499 AU$559
32GB Surface with keyboard US$599 AU$679
64GB Surface with keyboard US$699 AU$789

Although the Australian prices are more expensive than their US counterparts, they also include the goods and services tax, while the US prices do not, making the prices similar.

Microsoft also recently announced the pricing of its Xbox Music subscriptions — AU$11.99 for Australians and US$9.99 in the US — identical to the cost for Spotify Premium.

Husic, who is spearheading a parliamentary inquiry into high Australian IT prices and last year slammed Microsoft for not discussing regional price differences, welcomed the more similar pricing models.

"Finally we are seeing some more realistic pricing from Microsoft," he told ZDNet.

"The initial reported prices for their Surface Tablet and Xbox Music subscriptions show that US and Australian prices will be roughly similar, after taking into account factors such as taxes."

Microsoft has previously stated that the high cost of labour and complying with regulations have forced prices to be higher in Australia. ZDNet invited Microsoft to comment on the changes to its pricing, but had not received a reply at the time of writing.

Husic said that this change in events, at least on the Xbox Music front, is likely due to competitive pressure from Spotify in forcing Microsoft into line with its other rivals, but he didn't discount the power of the public voicing its dissatisfaction with the company.

"Unlike with other IT pricing announcements, we can see some move to harmonise prices between the US and here — and that's in no small part due to the fact the public has said, loud and clear, it's tired of being ripped off by the major vendors.

"This experience shows, in my mind, that finding ways to boost competition — to help take the sting out of price discrimination — has to remain a big area of focus for the IT Pricing Inquiry."

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