Originally Posted by anantksundaram
This is something Apple needs to fix. Period. Many parts of the EU think of themselves as one. They transact in the same currency and pay roughly similar prices for many "world" products.
This should be so easily do-able on their website with some software fixes.
Indeed, as a US buyer, there are some bands/tracks offered in the EU -- and not in the US -- that I'd like to be able to purchase too. As a global company selling a world product, Apple has to figure out how to leverage its technological brilliance to make the iTunes store a truly borderless shopping experience. ...
You make it sound like Apple wants to restrict what you're allowed to buy.
Apple would love to sell everything to everybody. I'm sure they'd be overjoyed if they could get rid of all the administative overhead that goes with running a separate web store for each country.
Unfortunately, they don't have that choice. Apple doesn't hold the copyright on any of their songs. As such, they can on sell what and where the copyright holders (that is, the record labels) authorize. If they violate these "agreements", then the labels can withdraw their catalogs.
The same goes for pricing. The labels demand prices proportional to what they get from CDs. In a country where they charge more for physical media, they are going to demand more from Apple. Apple makes an incredibly thin margin on iTunes sales in the US. They'd take a huge loss if they sold to the UK at US prices, since they'd still have to pay the record labels the same UK-priced royalties.
And we haven't even touched the matter of taxes, which vary greatly from country to country. Is Apple suppose to just eat them? Or perhaps raise the prices on everybody else so nobody feels left out?
You're right, this is a bad situation for consumers, but the change has to come from the labels. The EU suing Apple is just silly. That's like suing your local Ford dealership because the MSRP is too high. There is nothing Apple can do. If they are sued and lose, then their only choice will be to shut down the iTunes stores in the EU, and who will that help?
Originally Posted by ajmas
The issue here is not so clear cut. If I am in the UK and see something on the FNAC website (French seller), then I can buy it and they will send it to me. Trying something equivalent on the Apple store is not so easy. In many ways this case may be seen as a test case to ensure that these issues get resolved and end up showing that it can be done.
And any major retailer who makes a business doing this will quickly find themselves without a supply of CDs to sell. That's the point of exclusive distribution contracts.
Apple is not the one setting the royalty prices, they're not the ones charging the taxes.
The only way to make everybody equal is to make them all equally bad. If the UK store costs more than the French store and Apple is sued, then the result will be that the prices in the French store will go up, because Apple's costs (imposed by the record labels and governments) won't be going down.
Originally Posted by ajmas
One of the main problems with the distribution models used by record companies, is that distributors in the various countries usually have exclusive deals for the territory. I also believe that distributors are often the manufacturers of the physical media, and localise the presentation, so this model works because it ensures that multiple distributors aren't confusing the local market with multiple copies of the same disc. As music becomes less associated with physical media, then current distribution models start seeming less relevant, yet these contracts have already been signed. If change needs to be forced, then the EU could force a law through that could force record to change their distribution model, yet until that happens the record companies are quite happy with the way things are currently. In an ideal world record companies would chalk up two contracts, one for online distribution, which would be EU wide and another for physical media which would be country specific. Only time will tell in what direction things go.
... and until that happens, attacking the retailers for passing their costs on to consumers is just a complete waste of time. Nobody will benefit from this action. Not the consumers, not Apple, not the record labels, and not even the governments. There will simply be higher prices all around for no reason other than the need to satisfy the letter of a poorly-written law.