Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Apple agrees to demands, blames labels

The news that Apple has accepted it must charge all European Union citizens the same price for iTunes downloads is encouraging - although we're not sure why it will take six months, and the headline on its press release held out the prospect that the rest of Europe might suffer instead:

Apple to Standardise iTunes Music Prices Throughout Europe

The body confirms, though, that they intend to drop prices in the UK - just as soon as those rotten labels agree:
Apple currently must pay some record labels more to distribute their music in the UK than it pays them to distribute the same music elsewhere in Europe. Apple will reconsider its continuing relationship in the UK with any record label that does not lower its wholesale prices in the UK to the pan-European level within six months.

“This is an important step towards a pan-European marketplace for music”, said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope every major record label will take a pan-European view of pricing”.

Apple's tune has changed somewhat - it's not so long ago that they were parotting the label's lame excuse of "lots of other things cost more in the UK" as a justification for the gouging of UK consumers.

Obviously, their capitulation to an EU investigation heads off the prospect of an embarrassing lawsuit and the need to refund British customers the part of the price which merely reflected the UK licence, but price harmonisation still seems to fall short of what is demanded by European Law - an EU citizen should be able to shop in any EU country, and discrete stores nation-by-nation, even ones with equal pricing, do not allow that.

Apple blames this on the labels - but maybe it's time for Apple and the EU to team up and force labels to remove this anomaly. After all, if the Commission is serious about a single pan-European music licensing regime, wouldn't this be a good place to start?


star said...

It's up to the "labels" to take care of this problem. If they had (before this), there would never have been a problem in the first place. Place the responsibility at the source of the problem.

And if there are problems with how the Apple iTunes store implements this agreement (like raising prices across Europe to fall into line with the pricing in the UK), then that's going to be the fault of the labels and not the Apple iTunes store.

If there are problems in a specific country, that ends up requiring the Applie iTunes stores withdraw a song from the entire European market (because of a problem in one country) -- then that's going to be a problem that originates with the labels, and not the iTunes store.

The bottom line is that *all* of these problems *originate* with the labels and the Apple iTunes store is not the problem.

AND, with the fact that the Apple iTunes Music store is *not* a monopoly, that means that Apple can definitely market their songs for a wide market of formats (like MP3, AAC, lossless and so on) and doesn't have to do it for *every last single format* -- even if it's a format that Microsoft would love to "break into"... LOL!

It's about time that people *go to the source* of the problem and that's the music company labels.

simon h b said...

Fair points, but let's be fair: Apple not only accpeted the price structure, but have been publicly defending it over the last couple of years.

Trevor said...

> Apple's tune has changed somewhat - it's
> not so long ago that they were parotting
> the label's lame excuse of "lots of
> other things cost more in the UK" as a
> justification for the gouging of UK
> consumers.

Do you have links to statements made by Apple parroting labels' lame excuses? Because I agree that these are lame excuses, but I've never heard Apple parrot them.


simon h b said...

At the time Which originally made the complaint about the iTunes pricing differential:

"Look at the price of CDs in the US versus the UK. We believe the real comparison to be made is with the price of other track downloads in the UK."

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