Price Of Tech In Australia: What's 'Fair', Anyway?

Labor MP Ed Husic's call for an inquiry into IT pricing in Australia has had my brain buzzing over the concept of a "fair" price for technology. After all, what is fair anyway? The discussion on this on Friday tended towards complaints -- which is fair enough -- but veered around other topics, including car pricing. I've been pondering the question of "fairness" when it comes to IT products over the weekend, but I'm interested in the broader reader position, keeping it tightly focused around IT products only.

Thinking points

  • I dug through a trade publication on Friday, where it was noted that the costs of retail and especially labour contributed towards Australia's IT pricing schemes, and that competition from overseas and Internet services had already seen a number of high profile enterprises go to the wall. Given the pitch of the publication in question, it's an understandable position to take; this is their business and they're protecting it as best they know how. But are physical IT shops a relic? Are we willing to sacrifice them in the name of lower prices, or is there a way to run a physical IT business that can compete with overseas Internet sales?
  • Is there a lower limit where it doesn't really matter? Take for example the Kindle Touch; a Dick Smith exclusive, we've already had folks happy to buy locally -- and others for whom the $36 premium is too much. Equally, does it truly matter if an app costs $1.29 instead of $0.99? Who really needs that 30c? Or should the focus be on higher cost items in the hundreds or thousand dollar ranges?
  • How far does the margin for "fair" extend? For my own personal uses, I'll naturally gravitate towards lower prices -- as most of us would -- but I reckon a small margin is fair enough in terms of supporting a given local business, and it's typically nothing that I'll grumble about -- or for that matter bother going any further to purchase. A convenience price, if you like. It's why while I'd rather pay precisely the same for a product as the overseas price, I can bear a dollar or two on an item in Australia, because it's locally supported and locally supporting.
  • What's your viewpoint? At what point do we veer away from "fair" and into "price gouging"?

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