EU forces iTunes UK to cut prices

Even though I am not a big fan of iTunes this is good news for consumers in the UK:

Apple is ditching its policy of charging UK consumers more than other Europeans when they buy songs from its iTunes service, following an EU antitrust investigation. The computing giant announced this morning that it will cut prices at its UK iTunes store within six months, bringing them into line with iTunes pricing across Europe.

The move is a significant victory for the Which? consumer watchdog. It prompted the EC’s antitrust proceedings against Apple last year by complaining that British customers paid almost 10% more than those in the eurozone.

So, within 6 months there will be a 10% cut in prices for music download on iTunes UK. Here is the EU press release. At the same time a cartel case against big record companies was dropped because the Commission could not prove that record companies were imposing these sales arrangements on Apple.

I think this is a good example how the EU can actually help consumers in Europe. It would be a good opportunity for the EU to communicate this success in the UK in a clear and concise manner. (The press release is not a good example for that…). But positive EU news usually disappear rather quickly. At the end of the day Apple will run a big advertising campaign to promote lower prices which will probably boost sales. It must be frustrating to work in DG Comp.

Another interesting issue in that context is whether this decision will have any implications on the proposed Commission consultation on how to deal with the online content industry in Europe.

Update 11.1.08: Today David Miliband writes about this issue (Europe Makes a Difference to People’s Lives – Shock) in his blog and reckons that this story “will bring a smile to the Prime Minister”.

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