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Cheers - AE

Thursday, 22 September 2011


... you really are a bunch of bastards.

Windows 7 in Australia - AU$199
Windows 7 in UK - £99.99 or about AU$155
Windows 7 in the United States - US$79.95 or about AU$80
It's a download, Microsoft. A bloody download. Not only are the costs of shipping insignificant the customer is contributing with his own bandwidth. Apple, who despite my being a customer I also feel are a bunch of bastards who aren't above charging significantly different prices for the same products here in Oz, have at least made OS X Lion, also a downloadable operation system, AU$32, £21 in the UK (about $32.50 in Aussie dollars) and US$30. Yes, still cheaper for the Yanks and percentage wise it's not insignificant, but in actual money terms nobody's going to be all that fussed about a couple of bucks.

But you, Microshaft, you are charging Australian customers two and a half times as much for the same product with no real difference in costs to you. I don't mind that it's miles more expensive than Mac operating systems - there are reasons for that which I can understand and accept, and besides you can charge whatever you like. It's business and you can charge what the market will bear. And of course that applies with international sales too, so if the Aussie market can bear paying two and a half times as much, if the average Aussie consumer is two and a half times as wealthy as the average American consumer, then fair enough. But we both know that isn't the case and you've just been charging this much because 'til now too few Aussies have been aware they're being ripped off to make a difference.

However, I wouldn't bet on that state of affairs continuing. Aussies have become aware that they've been ripped off on book prices and have begun ordering from Amazon and Book Depository in such numbers that book retailers here are shitting themselves and one major chain, Borders, has already gone to the wall. I haven't got too much sympathy with Borders since, much like you lot, Microshaft, they charged more for ebook downloads than the same bloody ebook in the UK or US. And it's not just books either, as other retailers are finding out and cracking the sads about. Last year head of the Harvey Norman chain, Gerry Harvey, called for the government to levy Goods and Services Tax (GST is 10%) on all personal imports rather than just purchases exceeding $1000. Since every time the government has looked into this they've found that GST on lower value imports would cost more to collect than it raises this is nothing more than a demand for protectionism, and since price differentials are often much larger than can be accounted for by the lack of GST Harvey didn't achieve much apart from letting more people know that what his stores sell can often be found much cheaper on the internet. Funnily enough Gerry harvey's suggestion that Australian customers be made to pay more didn't go down well and he backed down not long after.

So here's where we are, Microshaft. Aussies are becoming more price aware and more conscious of the fact that there are savings to be had on the internet. And I've been asked to update a few rellies' computers to Windows 7 and to shop around and see where the best price is. And I just happened to come across an article in The Age about price gouging, on which someone left a comment to the effect that they saved $109 on Windows 7 by downloading it from the US, though it actually seems to be even more of a saving if you need the upgrade version. So guess what I'll be advising them to do.

Yep, that's right. I'll be recommending they get it from the US for $120 less, and I'll also be suggesting that they tell all their friends. And if they're sufficiently outraged by your pricing policies who knows, maybe they'll all look at Ubuntu instead.
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