Apple to slash UK iTunes pricesMove follows Which? complaint on price difference

09 January 2008

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Apple is to slash the price of its iTunes music downloads in the UK after Which? complained it was ripping off British consumers.

The entertainment giant will cut the price of UK downloads – which are 79p compared with 99 cents (about 74p) in the rest of Europe - within six months.

The move follows a Which? investigation in 2004 which found UK users paid 20% more to download a song from iTunes than French and German music fans.

Which? investigation

We complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about the disparity in prices, as well as the fact that UK consumers were barred from downloading songs from iTunes in France or Germany to avoid the higher UK price.

That complaint was forwarded to the European Commission (EC) which launched its own investigation into the entertainment giant.

But the EC has now stopped its probe after Apple agreed to cut the price of UK downloads to match prices in mainland Europe.

'Great victory'

Which? lawyer Chris Warner welcomed the news: ‘We complained about Apple's price discrimination back in 2004 - so we're glad it's finally agreed to give British music lovers a fair deal. It's great news for consumers and a great victory for Which?.

It's great news for consumers and a victory for Which?

‘We hope that other internet companies – including other online music companies - will now follow Apple’s lead and ensure their UK prices are aligned with those in continental Europe.'

Restrictions

Although prices will be aligned, UK consumers still won't be able to download songs from iTunes websites in other countries. Which? wants to see Apple lift these restrictions soon so all consumers have access to the same tracks as well as the same prices. Which? believes that anything else would go against the principles of a single European market.

Chris Warner added:‘It’s great to see the work of the European Commission delivering real benefits to UK consumers. We hope this is the first of many positive results for consumers in the on-line world’.

Since the UK launch of iTunes in 2004, millions of tracks have been downloaded.

Apple said it currently paid some music labels more to distribute their music in the UK than it paid for distributing the same music elsewhere in Europe. The company was giving music labels six months to lower their wholesale prices to the pan-European level.

Anyone who's paid the UK higher price for a download will not be able to claim a refund of the difference when the new price comes into force.