IT pricing: Adobe considering fronting parliamentary committee

Adone, one of the largest software companies in the world, may appear before the parliamentary committee on IT pricing.

Adobe is weighing up whether it appear before the parliamentary committee looking at IT pricing in Australia, following recent claims by Ed Husic that the committee would consider issuing a subpoena to force the company to appear.

An Adobe spokesperson told Computerworld Australia it received a request last Friday from the parliamentary committee.

The spokesperson also said that Adobe has responded to all requests that have been made from the committee to the company, including requests for additional information.

“All requests and responses have been made via the committee secretariat, as is the appropriate process,” the spokesperson said.

“Adobe received a further request by the committee last Friday (5 October) to appear before a public hearing and we are considering this.”

Adobe is one of the largest software companies in the world and recorded a US$4.2 billion revenue in its FY2011 results, an 11 per cent increase, and US$1.5 billion cash flow in the financial year.

The company has been lambasted by the standing committee on infrastructure and communications for not appearing before it, which is looking into IT price discrimination in Australia.

"Australians are often forced to pay more for IT hardware and software than consumers in overseas markets. The Committee’s inquiry aims to determine the extent of these IT price differences and examine the possibility of limiting their impact on Australian consumers, businesses and governments,” Nick Champion, committee chair, has previously said.

Adobe has also been criticised by consumer advocacy groups such as ACCAN for charging Australian consumers more than US counterparts.

“Small businesses and sole operators who work in graphic design, for example, see Adobe products as must-haves. Alternative products are either unsuitable, incompatible or not taught to those who are studying their craft,” Erin Turner, policy and campaigns officer at ACCAN said at a recent hearing.

“This gives Adobe significant market power, allowing them to charge Australian small businesses hundreds to thousands of dollars more than their counterparts in other countries. For example, the Adobe Creative Suite sells for $1349 more in the Australian Adobe small and medium business store than it does in the US store."

Research by consumer advocacy group Choice also revealed that when it comes to PC games, Australian consumers are paying an average of 232 per cent more for the top 10 games on steam.com and has rejected the claim by retailers that the GST significantly adds to IT prices in Australia.

Adobe has repeatedly been criticised for not appearing before the committee for questioning, with MP Ed Husic telling Computerworld Australia in August this year that he was “looking at ways in which we can take a much firmer line on the no show by the major vendors”.

He also recently told ZDNet he was seeking to subpoena Adobe, as well as Apple and Microsoft, to force the companies to attend a committee hearing.

However, the Adobe spokesperson said the company had already attended a hearing through the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).

“Adobe worked with the AIIA to develop its industry-wide submission to the IT pricing inquiry. Adobe was represented by the AIIA at a public hearing on 30 July and has also provided further information to the committee as requested,” the spokesperson said.

The AIIA has long insisted that vendors are not to blame for price discrepancies around the world.

Suzanne Campbell, CEO of the AIIA, told the inquiry in July this year that vendors do not set retail prices. Instead, channel partners and content and rights owners are responsible for setting prices, she said.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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