EU Launches Probe into iTunes Music Store

The European Union has launched a probe into the pricing of iTunes music service. The probe comes after UK consumer group Which? noted that users in the UK had to pay higher prices than people in the rest of Europe. Apple have replied saying that they would like to offer a single European service, but face obstacles in doing so. Brussels has written to iTunes and a number of unnamed record companies to notify them of their objections to the way music is sold, the first step in formal proceedings.

"Consumers can only buy music from the iTunes online stores in their country of residence and are therefore restricted in their choice of where to buy music," said EU competition spokesman Jonathan Todd. Research by Which? in 2005 found that UK users paid 79p (1.16 euros) to download a song compared with 66p (99 euro cents) in France and Germany.

News source: BBC News


The move confuses me somewhat, just a few weeks after cd-wow.com were once again sued for importing CD's from Europe to sell in the UK. Maybe someone should notify the EU of this travesty too?

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I'd furthermore to buy stuff in the US store... they get all the candies like free tv episodes, free single tracks, get new stuff faster (-> Movies still not being sold here)... -.-*
I'm kind of disappointed.
Why do the US costumers get that much free stuff, but EU dudes have practically nothing they can get for free appart from podcasts of cause.

Glassed Silver:mac

Some of the replies are missing the point, the main legal problem the EU has with Itunes store is that it stops an EU citizen from buying goods in another member state, that goes against EU trade rules. Adds to that that it appears that on top of that, it may be doing it so it can charge more to some customers than to others.

Exactly the point I was trying to make. They offer EXACTLY the same service to others at a reduced price in a different currency - with no choice from the user which currency they would like to use.

Ahhh the EU... protecting consumers from themselves yet again (and of course going for a cash grab along the way).

Let's think about this for a second. If the price difference is unreasonable, the consumer will decide whether to still make the purchase or not. Its not like iTunes is the only music store out there. In the end, if the consumer still pays the higher price by their own choice (remember, Apple isn't forcing anyone to buy anything) then let them. It's their money. What right does the EU think they have to tell a company what price they can charge? None. In a market free from monopoly (which this is), the consumer ultimately controls price by deciding who wins their hard-earned dollar. If Apple wasn't getting any sales they would be forced to lower their price or corrent the price difference.

The EU should find something decent to do with its time and let the consumers worry about themselves.

C_Guy said,
Its not like iTunes is the only music store out there.

It pretty much is for all those that own an iPod, 95% know no better.

I agree. For what is as far as I was ever aware a market based economy the EU does like to get involved a bit too much with certain companies IMHO (here and also the big one being MS). I mean if companies products were overpriced the market would shift or if the features weren't what the user wanted they could look elsewhere.

I understand the need for consumer protection but I think at times this goes a bit too far and really goes against any market economy one may claim to be practicing. Lower prices would be great for consumers but in the end of the day the prices should be Apples say.

Smigit said,
...in the end of the day the prices should be Apples say.

It isn't Apple's decision. It appears this is due to licensing of the music to sell in the UK vs the rest of the EU. This is also the reason there isn't an EU wide iTMS, each country has to have the rights to sell there negotiated individually. Blame the BPI here for the cost.... that and the VAT differences between the EU member states.

Edit: Sorry VAT has nothing to do with this here, and shouldn't be used as an excuse. Ireland's VAT rate is 21%, Germany's 16%, yet both stores sell songs at .99 Euros. The UKs VAT is 17.5%. This is purely BPI greed.

jasondefaoite said,

It isn't Apple's decision. It appears this is due to licensing of the music to sell in the UK vs the rest of the EU. This is also the reason there isn't an EU wide iTMS, each country has to have the rights to sell there negotiated individually. Blame the BPI here for the cost.... that and the VAT differences between the EU member states.

Edit: Sorry VAT has nothing to do with this here, and shouldn't be used as an excuse. Ireland's VAT rate is 21%, Germany's 16%, yet both stores sell songs at .99 Euros. The UKs VAT is 17.5%. This is purely BPI greed.


Since January 1st Germany's VAT is 19%...

Glassed Silver:mac

I am wondering will Apple be refunding the differences, or will they try scam us out of it by offering time limited freebies?

>> The move confuses me somewhat, just a few weeks after cd-wow.com were once again sued for importing CD's from Europe to sell in the UK. Maybe someone should notify the EU of this travesty too?

CD wow were importing them illegally supposedly. The problem here is different - they are stopping you ordering goods from shops elsewhere in the world and having them sent to you.

The point its making is that for UK residents its impossible to purchase your music using euros from say... the french itunes store. The only difference is the currency and the price, the problem is they are forcing you to buy it in £ at an inflated price. There is no shipping this is digital music!

Ive not seen any other site which actually offer other currencys but doesnt let you choose your currency.

kraized said,
How long has this been going on. Yes we in the UK have to pay more. We have to pay more for everything. :rolleyes:

I think it is because in UK here are a lot of people who doesn't create anything of real value but wants to eat and live like Royals (who does nothing too, but at least they attract tourists). This leads to overpricing of everything and faster inflation. We have too many middle men who stand between manufacturer and buyer. And these middle men will fight till the end for the legal right to rip you off thru internet and street shops.

EJocys said,

I think it is because in UK here are a lot of people who doesn't create anything of real value but wants to eat and live like Royals (who does nothing too, but at least they attract tourists). This leads to overpricing of everything and faster inflation. We have too many middle men who stand between manufacturer and buyer. And these middle men will fight till the end for the legal right to rip you off thru internet and street shops.

Or the fact that each EU country has a different level of VAT which they rip their citizens off - 17% VAT! Jesus Christ, and people in NZ complain about 12.5% GST :P

kaiwai said,
Or the fact that each EU country has a different level of VAT which they rip their citizens off - 17% VAT! Jesus Christ, and people in NZ complain about 12.5% GST :P

A lot of prices in UK are 100% bigger than in US or rest Europe. VAT can't cover that. All you need to predict UK price of same product in US is just replace $ with £. Of cource there are exceptions like eBay.co.uk where you can find what you need without wasting money.