Fresh on the back of my moan about journalists who do nothing but rehash press releases while staring at multiple screens, we have a post on FORTUNE which swallows the Apple line on pricing discrepancies in the EU hook, line and sinker:
An Apple spokesperson at the time made it clear that the company blamed its partners in the music industry:
“Apple has always wanted to operate a single, pan-European iTunes store, accessible by anyone from any member state. But we were advised by the music labels and publishers that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us. We do not believe the company did anything to violate EU law, and we will continue to work with the EU to resolve this matter.”
It’s not quite that simple. Even when Apple cut that deal, back in May 2006, the company was under pressure from the music publishers to relax its one-price-fits-all policy and allow the labels to charge more for some content and less for other stuff — the very issue that has gummed up Apple’s negotiations with Hollywood and the TV networks.
What twisted logic led to the county-by-country pricing scheme is still not clear, but Apple obviously went along with it — and found itself in the EC’s crosshairs.
So in other words, Apple says it was all the music companies’ fault, and FORTUNE nods its head and says "umm, yeah, that must be it". In fact, the company has always had different pricing between the Euro zone and Poundland for all its products, even taking into account different VAT rates. Prior to the existence of the Euro, this differential pricing lead to a healthy grey market for Macs – in the early 1990’s, ads from grey importers lead to big profits for Mac magazines in the UK.
So, given Apple’s history of differential pricing, I’m surprised that FORTUNE simply decides to take Apple’s word for it – particularly when there is no response from the people who Apple is blaming for the whole mess.