Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

The iTunes Pricing Issue

Ken wants me to write about the iTunes pricing issue, so here’s a quick post before I go to work. MacCentral has the story details but it’s in many, many other news outlets right now. Basically, the Consumers Association in the UK is accusing Apple of over-charging its British customers in comparison with its EU customers.
In short: I support the Consumers Association. My parents are actually members of the organisation.
iTMS is cheaper than the average, with Napster and the various OD2-based stores generally selling songs for around 99p and Apple selling them at 79p. Yet, in other EU countries, the songs are the equivalent of 67p in the localised iTunes music stores, however Brits can only get these lower prices if they have a credit card and address in mainland Europe. The Consumers Association say this is unfair and it is against EU trade rules which should encourage free trade across the union, and as such they are intending to report Apple to the UK Office of Fair Trade (OFT). Should the OFT act, Apple will be forced to change its prices.
Now, while Apple’s music store offers comparitively good value, it doesn’t excuse the fact that they are (allegedly) breaking trade rules. And I’m a consumer – I want the best value possible. iTMS is already the best (IMHO) online music store but lower prices would make it better. It could also start a price war and re-ignite the market.
Added later:
As I said this was written in a bit of a rush before I went to work this morning. It is fair to say Apple has a history of charging unnecessarily-inflated prices which are still higher than their US equivalents even when you include shipping, handling and taxes. The iPod Mini is a good example – at launch it was to be £200 here, but when it finally came out it was £180 (with some retailers like Amazon selling them for £175) because we Brits complained.
In the comments, however, Harry makes a very good point about how it is a little unfair that Apple has been singled out here and not OD2 or Napster. Now that might be because OD2 and Napster are just as expensive in mainland Europe, or because the Consumers Association are pointing the finger at Apple to attract more attention. I don’t know if either of those are true.

3 Comments

  1. I am all for lower prices, no matter what side of the pond!
    Thanks Neil.

  2. Yeah, it blatantly does break the EU rules, and lower prices would be good for us, as consumers. Still, does seem very unfair on Apple to force them to have lower prices than their competitors, in what is a rather different market from the European one.

  3. I have no real opinion on this, since I don’t live there, and I don’t know all the issues involved. But I did read an article about it that I found interesting on fool.com about this that I thought I would pass on.