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Microsoft's APAC president denies price gouging in Australia

'We try to be competitive' says César Cernuda

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Canalys Channels Forum Microsoft's president for the Asia Pacific, César Cernuda, has tried to explain why some of the company's products cost rather more in Australia than in other parts of the world.

Cernuda spoke yesterday at the Canalys Channels Forum in Bangkok, an event at which each speaker's talk is followed by questions submitted by delegates. Most attendees work for channel organisations. Several Australian resellers and distributors attended the event.

After Cernuda's talk Canalys president and CEO Steve Brazier asked a question he said came from an un-named Australian curious to know about Microsoft's pricing policy down under.

The anonymous questioner isn't the only one asking such questions: the nation's parliament convened an inquiry into IT pricing in 2012 in response to consumer grumbling about what has come to be known as the "Australia tax". That inquiry conducted public hearings in March 2013, at which Microsoft Australia's Pip Marlow appeared and said she was content that the laws of supply and demand would determine whether Australians are asked to pay too much for Redmond's wares. If Microsoft does overcharge, she said, customers would vote with their wallets and buy rivals' products.

Cernuda's answer to the question of Australian pricing clearly indicated he is aware of the issue, but didn't offer a clear answer.

“Our pricing strategy and point of view is we have never tried to be perceived as expensive or to position our technologies as expensive,” he said, adding that Australia is a “mature” market where foreign exchange issues and “some history” contribute to local pricing.

“We try to be competitive in every single market,” he added. “We try to ensure our value proposition has the right price point.”

“This is all about Microsoft winning and the customer winning and Microsoft and our partners winning.”

The point of the question about pricing was, of course, that at least one partner appears to think it is hard to win at Microsoft's current Australian prices. Australia's parliament also feels the nation is losing because higher local prices means higher costs for local businesses. ®

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