As this is being written one of our dollars will buy 107 US cents. And right now Adobe Photoshop CS5 costs $1052 here and U$649 there. Photoshop Elements costs $126 in Australia and U$91 in America. Corel Paintshop Pro X4 Ultimate is $106 here and U$71 there. (These are typical street prices in Melbourne and New York.)
While camera companies have faced the reality of interweb shopping and consumer revolt and cut their prices to within cooee of American prices, the software companies, like Adobe and Corel, treat us like morons by tying their products to regions. We might think that we pay the Productivity Commission, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and politicians to protect us from price gouging, but it seems we are mistaken. And what exactly is a free trade agreement if it is not an agreement for free trade?
Some naughty people set up bogus American interweb identities by using a US proxy redirect on their web browser, an American friend’s street address and telephone number and an American or international email address. Once they’ve done that the US retail world is their oyster. When we asked an ACCC spokesman what law was being broken by these scallywags he said: “Copyright”. And we said: “Who will prosecute them?” And he said: “No one.” Off the record, of course.
It is open to anyone to buy photographic hardware wherever in the world it is cheapest. There has been no legal protection for our retailers who have been caught between high wholesale prices from the distributors on the one hand and canny customers who won’t stand for being taken for fools on the other. The good news is that, since the dramatic drop in wholesale prices a few months ago, for many camera brands the price differential between local retail and imports is often not as great as the delivery cost from overseas.
For instance, the new Olympus E-P3, bought from a Melbourne and Sydney retailer who advertises in these pages and sells Australian-sourced product, costs $879. The New York street price for the same camera/lens combination is U$900. And the local price includes GST, the reasonable price we pay for living in a civilised society.
A Pentax K-5 body is $1159 here, $1200 there. A Canon 60D body, $1075 here and $1049 there.
Software, unlike hardware, has the same delivery costs for all customers, wherever they are, when it can be downloaded from one company server. Camera companies can plausibly claim that doing business on a big continent with a few customers adds costs but no such defence is open to the software companies.
Perhaps there has been no price revolt because we are all “students and teachers” buying Photoshop CS5 for $176 instead of $1052. Can anyone explain what is so special about students and teachers? And does Adobe make a profit at $176?