Microsoft: If our prices were unfair, people wouldn’t buy them
The last cab off the rank was Microsoft, fronted by Australian managing director Pip Marlow.
Marlow acknowledged that the company had not polled Australian customers about the fairness of its local pricing, but went on to argue that different markets require different prices and the sales figures speak for themselves:
We don’t set a global price for our products. We don’t believe that every market is the same. Emerging markets where the cost of living and the availability of technology is different has to be priced differently. At the end of the day, if we make a price too high in a particular market, customers will look elsewhere.
The Committee then confronted Marlow with a pricing sample of 47 Microsoft products, of which nearly 66 per cent are more expensive in Australia than the US.
Again, Marlow cited Microsoft’s sales success in the country, claiming “if they don’t like it, they vote with their wallets”. Under repeated questioning, Marlow all but dismissed the main thrust of the inquiry, claiming: “You’re looking for one simple silver bullet. There isn’t one.”
The Committee then rattled off some Microsoft price comparisons between US and Australia. When lumped together, the evidence is pretty sobering:
◾Windows 7 Professional (US: $326, AU: $469)
◾Office 2010 (US: $356, AU: $499)
◾Word 2010 (US: $142, AU: $189)
◾Visio Pro (US: $570, AU: $900)
◾Visual Studio 2012 with MSDN membership (US: $12,000, AU: $21,000)
As the questions drew to a close, Marlow claimed that the company would “consider” using different pricing strategies as the company moves deeper into the cloud