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back to article Apple cuts UK iTunes prices

The European Commission has ended its antitrust investigation into Apple after the computing giant agreed to cut the price UK consumers pay to download music for their iPods. Apple said it would cut UK prices to bring them into line with the rest of Europe. But it warned record labels: Apple currently must pay some record …

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Unhappy

Not much of a saving!

The current exchange rate (xe.com) puts 99 cents as 74 pence.

Hardly much of a difference

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Jobs Horns

Nice timing on the exchange rate

They coincidentally happen to announce this when the GBP/EUR exchange rate is at the lowest level ever. Useful. 6 months ago it would have meant bringing the UK price to 66p. Now it's more like 74p. How uncannily convenient for them.

Not that I use any Apple product anyway as I don't believe pretty colours are the most important deciding factor when purchasing gadgetery.

Andrew

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Jobs Horns

The truth is..

UK prices should be the same as US prices and the store should have the range of content that the US store does. $0.99 = 0.54p Amazon could release their MP3 store here and take some of apples market share.

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Silver badge

Re: Not much of a saving

Check your maths, mate. 99p down to 74p is a 25% saving!

Not that I use iTunes to care. ;-) CDs and a high quality rip is still the way for me, and I'm an uber-nerd on most things.

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@Greg

iTunes songs are 79p, not 99p. Gavin's maths are correct.

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Stop

US/UK

bigfoot780 wrote: "UK prices should be the same as US prices"

Tell that to the record companies.

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Unhappy

Pan-European Equality - we all get ripped off at the same rate now, cool

I believe Apple, like almost any US company, ripped you off in the past, with the euro achieving these heights they are now ripping the rest of Europe off as much as you now ...

What the wonderfully bright people in Brussels should have asked for are prices in Europe comparable to prices in the US. Again, they showed total lack of common sense ... so now we all have the privilege to get ripped off at the same rate, Danke, Merci, thank you, dank je wel, grazie, gracias - cretinos!

Just a thought, but if we align the prices to the $, we get close to 66 cents or 50p!

buggers

@Andrew: Not that I use any Apple product anyway as I don't believe pretty colours are the most important deciding factor when purchasing gadgetry.

Your comment shows that you have not "tried" the gadgetry!

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Paris Hilton

@ Greg

Err... that was 9 euro cents Greg not pence!

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Unhappy

Re: Re: Not much of a saving

But it's not 99p, it's 99 Euro cents / 79p.

So it'll be a saving of 5 GB pence.

I guess after buying a full album or two, I'll have 'saved' enough for a tin of beans or something!

woot!

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Coat

@Greg & @Andrew

Greg - The price is currently 79p not 99p

Andrew - If you make music for a living (or edit video, do graphic design or wish to surf the internet in a virus free environment) you might find that it's all about the "pretty colours" ;)

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@AC

@Andrew: Not that I use any Apple product anyway as I don't believe pretty colours are the most important deciding factor when purchasing gadgetry.

Your comment shows that you have not "tried" the gadgetry!

I could afford it if I REALLY wanted to, but paying more for a product that does less than its competitors, requires me to install bloatware and is more likely to 'break' in the next couple of years, does not fit with my economic model - even if it does look good and has a touch screen. Then again, you may well have convinced yourself that you aren't wasting money on it. Jolly good!

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Happy

Explain to me

Now the great and good of the EU have solved this one, badly, but what did we expect, maybe they could apply a similar ruling , but with a better result, to CD prices?

They could start by asking the record companies why I can buy 3 CDs from Amazon Marketplace for about £12 including postage when they ship from the US, when I'd get little change from £30 if I tried buying them here and it's not all down to VAT.

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Stop

@bigfoot780

While I agree that it would be nice to have EU prices the same as USA prices, it's just not in Brussels' power to ask for that. The point is that Apple are breaking EU trading regulations by different prices across EU member states - there is no such law to guarantee pricing equality with other countries.

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Silver badge

Re: Everyone who caught out my maths

Damn, that's what I get for reading El Reg on a 5 inch screen while trying to eat a burger.

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Anonymous Coward

79p for apple DRMd songs?

No thanks. Make them playable on any MP3 device *and* drop your price, or just drop the price drastically of the DRM free variant

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Thumb Up

Huzzah!

Now what are the chances the same happens for Nintendo and their Wii points... (Even better, make them the same as the states and the rest of the world. Why do we pay 35% more for something that is electronically distributed form the very same servers... I mean WHY?!)

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Alert

UK prices

I think the US and Europe should pay UK prices!

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Bronze badge

pretty colours?

Apple has been black or white (and now anodised Aluminium) for years now, except the iPod mini/nano.

I'm a big fan of my BlackBook (will be even better when I install the Crucial RAM I just got)

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Flame

Exchange rate woes..

It never fails to amaze me when people start brandishing the exchange rate when complaining about over-priced products in the UK. Do you expect Apple to charge variable rates depending on the exchange rate? So the revised iTunes store will say "today's songs cost 67.654p, yesterday they were 68.014p"?

Quite how the EU trading regulations work when we're not yet a single currency I don't know.

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Fluctuations!

I fully agree that pricing should be consistent globally, but currency fluctuations are always going to be an issue. It's all very well saying that with a $2=£1 exchange rate we should be paying 50p for what Americans are paying $1 for, but how does any company then keep its UK customers happy when the $ starts to recover and we all start moaning that our prices are increasing whilst the US prices are staying the same? And that's also the problem with Europe, when the £/€ exchange rate changes, do Apple increase the UK prices or decrease the EU ones? You can't have fixed consistent pricing across Europe with two currencies. I'm no fan of the € but the only way you can achieve this is price UK iTunes in € but allow users to pay in £ at the current exchange rate (though it would be interesting to see which exchange rate Apple would chose to apply)

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Unhappy

0.99 eurocents is 0.74p

Do we know if Apple has to charge VAT on their iTunes store downloads?

if so, some EU countries charge up to 25% VAT, whereas we are 17.5%.

That could make for a big difference too.

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Pirate

Still cheaper at the Kazaa shop

for those who prefer to 'shop around' ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Why should prices be the same across all countries?

Even if we're talking about electronic delivery, there are loads of good reasons why prices may vary.

Surely Apple (in this case) should be allowed to charge for their UK-based costs in their UK-based prices. Thus the cost of making a UK advertisement and showing it on UK TV gets added to the cost of buying from the UK store. Likewise the French advert on French TV gets added to the French costs. As does maintaining an office in each country, staffing it with people who speak the language to answer the phones and so forth.

I would imagine the cost of doing business in the US is proportionately a lot less than doing business in Europe. One TV advert in the States serves the whole of the States. etc.

When it comes to physical product, people appear to conveniently forget all sorts of things like shipping costs, differences in import duty between countries etc.etc.

This naive belief that "things should cost the same in all countries really just shows a lack of understanding about the cost of doing business in different countries.

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Flame

Record Pricing Differences

As an employee of the industry I fully expect to get flamed to death for this but try and understand the following.

A record is not like a car in that its is ultimately the same Ford company that will sell the same car to each country in europe.

Records are licensed to different labels for different territories, much like books and films are. Each label in each country has to do its own promotion, its own printing, its own pressing and its own advertising. Costs are duplicated in every country. Yes you could say a single label could release in every country, but there is not enough money in selling records in some countries for even the larger labels to have a working label in every territory. The premise of records being territory restricted is that each label can recoup its own costs without fear of the same track being parallel imported from another country, except by way of very small volume CD/Vinyl imports. If you want territory restrictions to dissapear you need centralised labels, they could only financially survive in maybe 4 European countries - UK, Germany, France and Italy. The rest would go bust in weeks.

The reason for wanting to keep the small labels in countries and support the current per territory licensing regieme - simple, these labels are also making and producing localised music and content to their specific country and culture. A lot of this is financially subsidised by licensed recordings from other countries. If you lose one you lose the local content too and that would be a crying shame.

As for US vs UK costs. In the US plastics cheaper, advertisings cheaper, staff are cheaper, music videos are cheaper, distribution is cheaper. Britain is a big rip off for anything media based and that applies at wholesale and industry service level as much as it does retail. Nigh on all UK CDs are pressed in the UK, we don't simply import US stock and the cost of pressing and pacakging alone is 4x what it is in the US. The levy applied by the mechanical copyright association in the UK is also higher than in the US. VAT takes 17.5% off the price of a CD, but the label loses another ~10% to the MCPS and 15% to its distributor before it see's any money back. With the supermarkets being so powerful they are also now demanding large discounts on wholesale price - so that can be another 20% gone for smaller titles.

I know people have the perception that the music industry is just the major labels and that they are all rolling in cash and are massive industries. But they pale in comparison to most big companies now and the power of the indie is rising. Please don't beat indies with the stick you all love to beat the majors with. We pay artists much higher royalties and offer much fairer deals. Any one who thinks the music industry makes too much profit and its the consumer thats getting ripped off really should look closer into the figures.

And before anyone says "but bands make loads from touring", yes they do, but the labels see 0% of it.

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J
Linux

Just tried...

I've never used iTunes to buy music, and probably never will (running Linux). Last weekend I just tried the Amazon MP3 download thingy, and it works nicely. U$0.89 for a DRM-less track. For sheer irony value, I made a point that my first ever MP3 purchase was that "1234" song of the iPod Nano ad -- which is one of the top sellers on Amazon, by the way (that's how I got the idea). Not that I really care for the song itself (cutesy and all that, not much my style, and the best part is basically what plays in the ad, the first 30 s). But I thought it would be fun anyway.

Now, buying albums from Amazon, from Linux... no way. Shame, stupid proprietary program. Until Amazon stops doing this, the only way is virtualizing some old copy of Win2K... It worked there too. :-)

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Bronze badge

256Kbs

No thanks.

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Thumb Down

I'm a bit worried...

Shouldn't companies be allowed to charge what they want for a product? So iTunes charges more for a single than elsewhere. Don't we have the freedom to go elsewhere to buy it?

Like many people on here, I run a business and would hate to be forced by some external organisation on my pricing. I charge what I think is reasonable for what I do, and if my clients disagree they can either complain and ask me to lower costs, or go to a competitor. Obviously I know what I'd rather do, but I would resent being forced into that position.

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Alert

Reply to: "Pan-European Equality"

when you do that, then you might as well get rid of the pound and the dollar alltogether, and just use monopoly money all around the world... at least the printing would be cheaper.

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Alert

Apple didn't just say they would drop prices...

If you read what they actually said it wasn't so much that they would drop the prices on their current content, it is that they will drop the labels that are charging too much to Apple to allow them to lower their universal price of 79p to that of those that aren't, thus leaving only the content of those less greedy labels. Effectively, what this means is that the iTunes store in the UK will probably be dead within 6 months as the chance of any of those labels actually doing this, given their track record, is zero and the number of titles available will be pitifully small (unless, of course, the exchange rate changes so that 79p = 79 euros or more thus meaning that they don't have to do squat or that they will actually have to charge UK shoppers even more!).

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Dead Vulture

Consumer pay the same prices in which countries again?

"Consumers pay the same price in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. European consumers, identified by the address on their credit card, pay 99 Euro cents while UK users pay 79 pence."

Thats a neat trick getting people from Denmark, Norway and Switzerland to pay in Euros as they have not joined the single currency yet!

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Apple can *raise* prices, too!!

Apple will raise prices in order to "standardize" prices across the European community -- if -- the record labels persist in their crazy pricing schemes. This is where the problem *originates* -- the music labels. They are the source of the problem. They always have been the source of the problem. Apple can only sell what they provide to Apple and at whatever price that the music labels provide to Apple (from which Apple derives the selling price).

So, if the music labels don't *adjust* and *standardize* their prices -- Apple will *raise* the prices "across-the-board" for all of the European Community -- in order that they can say, "We're selling everyone at the same price..." LOL!!

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Flame

now for Adobe and it's products across the world

still fuming that Adobe a products are TWICE what they cost in the USA (the most subsidised country in the world).....

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iTunes DRM

@ Anonymous Coward

> just drop the price drastically of the DRM free variant

[cough]

Er, they already did that last year. Non-DRM tracks from the iTunes Music Store are 79p too.

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Where to buy - not where it is sold

EU could have fixed this problem in a very different way. Let Apple charge what it likes where it likes. But force Apple to let me buy it from where I want. Just because I have a UK IP address and UK credit card is no reason to stop me buying (downloading) from another country's Apple site, paying in Euros (I'll take the risk on currency exchange rate via my credit card) and deciding what is the best deal for me. We have a free trade market in Europe (don't we?) so why can't I buy at 99 Euro cents from a non-UK Apple site, eh? Answer me that, EU. Aren't Apple infringing some regulations by stopping me? (Same as the car manufacturers could not stop Uk buyers buying at Euro prices from Germany, etc)

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