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Adobe To Australians: Fly To US For Cheaper Software 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the sometimes-the-simplest-solution-eludes-us dept.
angry tapir writes "It's been a long-running joke that it's cheaper for Australians to get a plane ticket to the U.S. if they want to buy Adobe's Creative Suite instead of paying local prices. But appearing before a parliamentary inquiry into the disparity between IT prices in Australia and elsewhere, Adobe's local chief appeared to suggest just that." Other companies gave their responses to the inquiry as well. Microsoft said they'll simply charge what the market will bear. Apple tossed out a host of reasons for the price difference; its retail partners, digital content owners, exchange rates, taxes, import duties, and an apparent inability to alter the price set by its U.S. parent company.
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Adobe To Australians: Fly To US For Cheaper Software

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  • by Looker_Device (2857489) * on Friday March 22, 2013 @07:53AM (#43245335)

    I don't know if this applies to software, but I know that music and movies have been seriously hindered by archaic regional licensing agreements going back to the days when physical media was the only means of distribution. It's why a certain DVD may be available in a certain region at price x, while completely unavailable or at a different price in region y (with a different distributor or even with a completely different edition of the movie/song). This old system has become a HUGE annoyance in the modern streaming era, particularly if you're trying to watch Netflix outside the U.S. (since those movie licensing agreements are still such a goddamned mess, even in an era when streaming crosses every old national and regional border). It's also why I have to import my blu-ray of "More American Graffiti" from the UK instead of being able to buy it here in the U.S.

    This may also explain why these weird prices apply specifically to the standard physical boxed sets of Adobe products, and not the newer cloud versions or student editions (as per the article). It may also explain why Adobe is so reticent to talk about it. If they have some long-standing regional licensing/distribution agreement in Australia, they may be reluctant to bad-mouth their local licensees/distributors (who have jacked up the retail prices for whatever reasons).

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:05AM (#43245453)
      All versions of products from all regions, often stripped of any artificial lock-down, are available on a host of file sharing networks.

      Saying that, I'm pretty certain that stating "Buy from the US" can be viewed as a blessing on the Grey Import business. Thanks, Adobe!
      • I'm pretty certain that stating "Buy from the US" can be viewed as a blessing on the Grey Import business.

        Actually no. Adobe's Paul Robson made that clear. "If you purchase your Adobe product in the US, we’re not obligated to provide you a warranty. We want you to buy from us."

        This is not new to us, it's been going on for years. The gougers have variously blamed retailers, market size, freight costs, warranty differences, rents, taxes, wages, penalty rates and importation and transport costs for their extortionate prices. None of it comes close to explaining their huge markups.

        There are no valid excuses.

        They're overcharging because they can. Because they're being allowed to use geo-blocking to stop Australians from buying from their websites. Because local retail channels are heavily controlled to block competition. Because their customers are no longer being given the options of competing products.

        The market has clearly failed to self-regulate and as a result, deserves government intervention.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          There are no valid excuses.

          Since when is a company not allowed to charge whatever it likes for its products...?

          • When they're manipulating the market to prevent competition.

            • Er, Adobe cant "manipulate the market to prevent competition". Theyre a software company; its the industry with perhaps the lowest conceivable barriers to entry.

              If you mean "competitors in the market consisting of Adobe products" then yea, I suppose there are no competitors to Adobe that make Adobe products.

            • When they're manipulating the market to prevent competition.

              Setting your prices sky-high is NOT "manipulating the market to prevent competition".

              Actually, setting your prices sky-high tends to ENCOURAGE competition.

        • None of it comes close to explaining their huge markups.

          If you want an explanation, its that people are still (excepting those who buy from the US) willing to pay the inflated prices.

          If Im selling bread, and I know people will pay $50 /loaf, why would I charge less than that?

          • by green1 (322787) on Friday March 22, 2013 @10:08AM (#43246799)

            I have no problem with you charging $50 for that loaf of bread. I do however have a problem if you get laws passed that stop me from going to your store in the next town to buy the same loaf of bread for $1.
            And that's what this boils down to. Large multi-national companies get the best of both worlds. they shop around for the cheapest source of parts, labour, and raw materials from any country in the world. meanwhile they lobby for laws and restrictions that prevent their customers from doing the same. (DVD Region coding combined with DMCA style laws, import tariffs, bogus safety laws that are really industry protectionism in disguise, etc)

            If you want to make your device in China instead of locally to save on money, don't get upset with me when I buy it from the USA instead of locally for the same reason.

    • This may also explain why these weird prices apply specifically to the standard physical boxed sets of Adobe products,

      It doesn't.

      We don't get physical copies. This is pure price-gouging, no excuses.

    • This old system has become a HUGE annoyance in the modern streaming era, particularly if you're trying to watch Netflix outside the U.S. (since those movie licensing agreements are still such a goddamned mess, even in an era when streaming crosses every old national and regional border).

      That's one of the things I like with Free/Libre OpenSource Software:
      If I want to download a copy from internet, I can do it from everywhere. I can pretty much get my favourite Linux distro without any licensing / regional distributor / retail chains madness.

      Only very few restriction apply.
      - Some digital copyright law, might require acquire DRM-decoding libraries from elsewhere (decss not available in the US or some EU countries).
      - Some patent law, might require acquiring codecs from elsewhere (no mp3 nor h2

      • by heypete (60671)

        - Some patent law, might require acquiring codecs from elsewhere (no mp3 nor h264 are available wherever software patent apply).

        Fluendo has licensed the MP3 codec for individual use and you can download and use it free of cost [fluendo.com]. It's often a package in various distros.

        - Some import/export law might require acquiring encryption from elsewhere (do still the USA consider large bits key encryption as "munition" and ban its export ?)

        Sort of. For the most part, developers in the US wishing to export cryptographic software need to notify the government but no review of the code is required. In essence, the government gave up on regulating nearly all crypto available to the general public, with the exception of exports to certain restricted countries like North Korea, Iran, etc. Export of certain thin

    • Importing UK Blu-rays into USA? Did you also import a player for them? Otherwise, I don't see how you're not in violation of federal law (i.e. the DMCA) whenever you're watching one of them (Blu-ray region codes [wikipedia.org]).
    • by pablo_max (626328)

      It does. Here in Germany it is a major pain in the ass with copyrights and such. Actually, most modern games cannot be sold in Germany without removing the blood and stuff. Germany always needs special versions.
      But, amazingly, it doesn't cost more than I would pay any other place in the EU.
      Then again, Germans, being rather frugal folks would just not buy it.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      Its ridiculous that I am still (even now) unable to buy either of the Aussie Cult Classic Yahoo Serious Films, Young Einstein or Reckless Kelly on DVD here in Australia.
      I imported Young Einstein from the USA many years ago and still dont own Reckless Kelly. I did watch Reckless Kelly a while back on an online video site (where it was doubtless uploaded without the permission of Warner Brothers) but I would gladly walk into JB Hi-Fi or some other store and buy a DVD for my collection if it was possible to do

      • by jonwil (467024)

        Oh and good luck finding many documentaries from networks like History, National Geographic and Discovery... (Modern Marvels, Tales of the Gun and others)

      • You're not missing much with Reckless Kelly, but Young Eisenstein is indeed a national treasure and withholding it from it's people is a cultural travesty of the highest order.
        • Ah, no.

          "Jersey Shore" is a cultural travesty of the highest order.

          Everything else is just above the noise floor.

    • It's also why I have to import my blu-ray of "More American Graffiti" from the UK instead of being able to buy it here in the U.S.

      I did the same thing with a Harry Potter bluray box set. It was roughly half price to buy it and have it shipped from England via royal mail than to purchase it here in the U.S.

    • by jrumney (197329)

      I don't know if this applies to software, but I know that music and movies have been seriously hindered by archaic regional licensing agreements going back to the days when physical media was the only means of distribution.

      Which is exactly why Grey Market Importing was legalized in Australia back in the mid 1990's. I haven't been keeping up, did the US finally get that overturned as part of one of their "Free Trade" agreements, and the current problem with software pricing is a result of that?

  • Mail it'? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:05AM (#43245465)

    If this was so easy, couldn't you call a 'friend' in the U.S. and make them mail you a copy?
    There has got to be more to this than that.

    • Re:Mail it'? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:13AM (#43245531) Journal

      These companies have agreements with online merchants like Amazon to block sales of US-priced products to Australia. Trying will get you a "This product is not available in your region" message.

      A few people sending packages to friends doesn't make a dent in the gouging.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        These companies have agreements with online merchants like Amazon to block sales of US-priced products to Australia.

        And there is a whole industry of re-shippers in the US who will receive goods and then forward it on to another (foreign) address.

        • by jrumney (197329)

          My credit card company offers reshipping, and temporary credit card numbers that appear to be US ones (or UK) as a service to get around geoblocking to its customers. Never used it, as their fees are ridiculous, and I have friends I can call on if I really need something, but it struck me as ironic that a major US based international bank would flout geographic restrictions so blatantly when I was offered it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by lordofthechia (598872)

        What's next?! Amazon honoring religious restrictions? Try to order some condoms on-line and get the message: "We've detected that you're catholic. This product is not available in your religion".

    • Sounds like it's simply a coordination problem. I know a bunch of people who would buy a copy of CS (from Amazon, say) and then mail it to a reseller if they could make $100 for their time. Then the reseller could mark it up another $100 and mail it to a customer in Australia.

    • I think the bigger point is "why are they selling it so expensive in australia?" That you could fly to the US and back to purchase it and still save money only illustrates how idiotic the pricing is, it's not actually what anyone would ever do.
    • If this was so easy, couldn't you call a 'friend' in the U.S. and make them mail you a copy?

      Customs / import duty.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        ISTR the original suggestion of "fly to the US and buy it there" accounted for paying any applicable duties on return.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        That doesn't stop you. You just pay 10% extra, which is way less than the 50% markup you are avoiding.

    • by pablo_max (626328) on Friday March 22, 2013 @09:25AM (#43246259)

      Seriously. There are organized trips now to the US. Not just for TVs and games and stuff like that.
      People will fly to US and buy their entire kitchen set. (Most can work both 110v and 220v now).
      Even after paying the shipping container and the VAT, it is still significantly cheaper than buying in Australia.

      • Christ. And I thought Alaskans were weird for flying to Seattle and buying big ticket items.

        At least we all drive on the same side of the road. (Well, mostly. Seattle traffic is pretty random these days.)

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:09AM (#43245491)
    It's just so darn expensive to rewrite all the software upside down for Australia and the rest of the southern hemisphere. That's the entirety of the additional cost!
    • Those days are over, thanks to Google.
      Maybe you have heard of Google's book scanning program? They can rent these machines which take screen shots with the monitor upside down very quickly.
      The real problem is that the copy of Adobe acrobat pro needed to perform the OCR is so expensive there, the cost does not come down.

  • I know there are plenty of people who really do need Adobe software for various reasons. However, I know there are also lots of people who could get by with GIMP instead of Photoshop and Inkscsape instead of Illustrator (I am one of those later people). I think there is a missed opportunity here for the open source community to gain some traction down under...
  • Where I live prices are sky high. I grumble at it a bit and I do buy from abroad. However, it is to me a sign that the economy I live in can bear the price. As a matter of fact, beginning of may I will take a trip to England to buy tyres for my car. No kidding!

    You'd almost say that it is normal, sound business practice to get the most out of your products. For my car tyres it actually is sound and clean business practice as anyone could import those tyres and offer them to me at a lower price. But nobody
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      You could buy Adobe products at retail price in the US to export to Australia and still have plenty of headroom to make a very decent margin.

    • Globalization is only valid when you are a large multinational company. When you're a mere consumer, you are obligated to buy from local seller for any price they want to charge. Yep, you can buy abroad, but your government (at least mine does) tries to make such act as most expensive and difficult as possible.

      Globalization for corps, feudalism to consumers.
      • by green1 (322787)

        And that's the issue. so many artificial limitations. To go with the tire example above, I could buy tires from overseas, but then the tires wouldn't have my government's safety stamp on them (they'd be identical tires otherwise, and just as safe, but without the safety stamp they'd be illegal)
        I could buy my DVDs overseas, but they'd have the wrong region coding, and even though that is trivial to get around, doing so violates federal law.
        Many other products are hit with exorbitant import duties to protect

        • People claim this is just the free market in action

          Actually only the very stupid call "government regulations" and "laws" the Free Market in Action.

          The rest of us call it "government interference in the Free Market".

          Note that this sort of thing is a side-effect of a government that can do everything for you - if they can do everything for you, they can also do anything TO you....

  • by houbou (1097327) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:23AM (#43245605) Journal
    Adobe is just being greedy.. that's all.
    • by dj245 (732906)

      Adobe is just being greedy.. that's all.

      It could be a racket created by a mid-to-upper level manager. I worked for a a division of a Japanese company in the USA. Parts were made in the US and sold to our Australian counterparts (USA had lower labor costs than Japan). There was an agreement between the US and Australian divisions that we would keep our markup to the Australian division low. Then they could add their own markup and be at basically the same price as the US. Splitting the margin between divisions basically.

      Then a new VP came

  • I still don't understand why a game that costs $50 in the US should cost 50 euros in Europe.
    UK customer don't seem to be affected by these strange currency conversions.

  • Competition Yadda (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:30AM (#43245675) Homepage Journal
    They can charge what they want to with pretty much no competition. Why not fire up a kickstarter campaign to add whatever features are missing to their open source competition? Maybe it'd be cheaper to hire some programmers to do that, as well. Especially since that could be a project funded and worked on globally.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:32AM (#43245703)

    In my experience Adobe software is more expensive outside the United States in general. It's understandable in Europe where they've got 20% VAT, in addition to a ton of other tariffs. But in Australia their VAT is 10%, considered one of the lowest in the world; I suppose, except for the US which has none. There may be import duties that are not being mentioned here, but it still wouldn't explain why the software is $1000 more expensive than in the US.

    However, I've noticed the trend elsewhere, including where I worked in Taiwan. Where Adobe software was considerably more expensive. It was ironic considering how rampant piracy was there. In our case we went through grey market channels, where someone purchased a bunch of copies in the US and resold them there. That or we'd get someone in the States to buy us a copy. Either way, we definitely weren't rushing out to buy the latest versions. So if anything, Adobe was discouraging sales.

    There was a lot of weirdness. Some software was cheaper than in the US. But then electronics were barely on par, and in some cases even Taiwanese-made laptops, for example, were actually cheaper than you'd find in the US. I do know that companies were levied various taxes and tariffs so that may have accounted for some of it.

    As far as I know, Australia's median income isn't higher than the US. So it seems that for whatever reason Adobe is gouging them. That said, good luck finding a plane ticket for anywhere near $1000.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:36AM (#43245723) Homepage Journal

    FTFA: "Adobe’s US software can be used in Australia but not covered by warranty, he said."

    Really? Since when do they have a real warranty on software anyhow?

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:38AM (#43245751)
    A company gave an honest answer?
    I was expecting all of these companies to give bullshit reasons, and Microsoft just straight up said "Oh, lol, cause we can :D"
  • Bit** please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dafradu (868234) on Friday March 22, 2013 @08:56AM (#43245955)

    Australia Adobe store - Creative Suite 6 Master Collection - US$ 4,530.00
    Brazil Adobe store - Creative Suite 6 Master Collection - US$ 5,055.00

    Brazil, where a car made here is sold for R$ 56.210, and the same car, but with more optionals, is exported to Mexico (over 7000 Km away) and is sold there for R$ 25.800. Take that Australia!

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Brazil, where a car made here is sold for R$ 56.210, and the same car, but with more optionals, is exported to Mexico (over 7000 Km away) and is sold there for R$ 25.800. Take that Australia!

      It's not just Brazil. Cars made in Canada are shipped to America and sold for less than you'd pay in Canada at a dealership just down the road from the factory they were made in (and that's before you add taxes on top).

  • by wbr1 (2538558)

    Robson said the cloud-delivered software is cheaper because it doesn’t have to go through traditional distribution and retail channels. He added that Adobe would prefer selling products over the cloud.

    cloud deliverrd software is cheaper because we will make more money over time with a subscription model that reaches into your pocket for a seemingly small amount, than a large upfront fee that causes everyone to pirate.

  • Last time I was in Kauai and Maui, it seemed like a huge chunk of the tourists were now from Australia. I talked to some of them, and they said it's actually cheaper for them to vacation in Hawaii than Bali which is closer (and more third world). And of course they said all this while doing the hand motion for throwing dollar bills out in front of them while ordering a free round for everyone around them.

  • Because we don't pull this happy horse shit.
  • When I worked at a very well known international humanitarian aid organization, we tried asking Adobe a few years back if we could buy their products directly from them, instead of via third parties here in Norway.

    We were told that, no, we had to buy it Norway at full price, and it would be a breach of license to buy it from anywhere in the US.

    At that time it cost about 17000NOK in the US, while it costed 38000NOK here in Norway (about $2800 vs. $6300). With a few licenses that adds up. And seeing where tha

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