Australia Forcing Apple, Microsoft Testimony in Product Price Inquiry

Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have all been ordered to answer questions in a government investigation in Australia over their practice of charging more for products in the country compared to other regions. Australia's House of Representatives Committee on Infrastructure and Communications wants to know why products from the companies can cost upwards of 50 percent more in Australia.

Australia wants to know why Apple kit costs more in the countryAustralia wants to know why Apple kit costs more in the country

The companies are scheduled to appear before the committee on March 22, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, and so far all three have resisted cooperating to varying degrees. Apple so far has been the least resistant, but still said it would answer questions only if the committee agreed to confidentiality.

Officials in Australia began looking into the pricing practices in April 2012 with an official inquiry beginning in July. At the time Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy said, "There is evidence to suggest that the innovative use of technology is not always matched with innovative new business models in the case of products and services distributed online."

Complaints about the pricing disparity weren't new, but it may have been Adobe that finally pushed the government into action when it said that its Creative Suite 6 package would cost up to AU$1,400 more in the country than in the United States.

Australian officials are disappointed that the companies didn't cooperate earlier, forcing the formal investigation. "These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches," commented Labor MP Ed Husic.

He added that forcing the Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe to testify was "an important move... we shouldn't have to take."

Assuming the companies don't send representatives to testify on March 22, they could face legal action. So far they haven't commented on the new government demand.