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'Tax' relief for Apple’s Oz customers

Token price cuts on iTunes a start

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Back in January, when Australian retailers were complaining about Australian shoppers (and the government), and Australian shoppers were fleeing retailers for theiInternet, El Reg looked at the way some products are marked up specifically for this territory, making it cheaper for the shopper to buy from international outlets and pay for their own shipping.

Apple is one supplier notorious for slugging its Australian consumers. Its “Apple tax” has even attracted the attention of an MP, Ed Husic, who took the issue to parliament earlier this year.

Several outlets are now lauding Apple for cutting prices at the trivial low-cost end of the market.

The company has quietly snipped a few cents of iTunes purchases for Australians (at the same time as raising prices in the UK), with as much as a whole Australian dollar cut from a $AU3.99 app. Outlets that don’t understand exchange rates have even back-slapped Apple for “matching” US prices.

Apple’s parsimonious generousity delivers up some favourable headlines while leaving other rorts in place.

At this morning’s exchange rate of AU$1.074 to one US dollar, the “Apple tax” on hardware ranges from 21 per cent (iPod touch 8GB, $AU259 in Australia, $US229, or $AU213, in the US) and 25 per cent (for entry-level iPods, iMacs and MacBook Pros) up to 40 percent for AppleTV.

That's only a tiny difference to the Australian premium back in January, when an iPad was apparently 28 per cent more valuable here than in the US; today, the gap has been shaved to 25 per cent ($AU579 compared to $US499).

Nor will international customers benefit from Cupertino’s other pricing announcement – the “corporate bulk purchase” program. There’s no word on when the initial US launch will be extended to other countries; and anyhow, companies currently need a Dunn & Bradstreet number (for example, an Australian Business Number isn’t any help) to be eligible.

Australians can, at least, be thankful we're not in the UK, where iTunes prices have risen. ®

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