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Apple, Microsoft, Adobe summonsed to appear before IT pricing inquiry

Apple, Microsoft and Adobe have all been summonsed to appear before a parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing, following months of wrangling to get the companies to appear before the committee.

The IT pricing inquiry is currently looking into whether Australians pay for software and hardware.

All three companies have been lambasted by the committee for not fronting up to public hearings, with MP Ed Husic stating the committee would be looking to take a firmer line with the companies following their refusal to appear at a hearing in July last year.

"This is an important move -- but one we shouldn't have to take," Husic said in a statement about today's summons.

"These firms should have co-operated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches."

Nick Champion, committee chair, told parliament in October that while Apple made a confidential submission to the committee, it has refused to appear before it.

Champion said Adobe has offered to appear before the committee, but only on the proviso that other companies also do the same.

Today Adobe said it "will co-operate with the committee as we have done since the inquiry began," an Adobe spokesperson told Computerworld Australia.

Microsoft has also made a submission, but Champion said it was unwilling to front the committee "and [has] proposed alternative contributions instead".

Matthew Rimmer, associate professor at Australian National University, said the 'fair IT' movement was becoming a significant political issue which could no longer be ignored.

"Adobe, Apple and Microsoft can no long hide under a 'cloak of invisibility' on this issue and shun the Australian parliament," he said.

In October last year, Adobe told Computerworld Australia it was considering appearing before the parliamentary hearing following claims by Husic that the committee would consider issuing a subpoena to force the company to appear.

Suzanne Campbell, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has told the inquiry that vendors do not set retail prices. Instead, channel partners and content and rights owners are responsible for setting prices, she said.

However, Matt Levey, head of campaigns at Choice, has said there are statements by industry which don't "stack up".

The companies have been summonsed to appear in Canberra 22 March for a public hearing.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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