Australian software prices on par with those abroad

Contrary to popular opinion, Australian business software does not carry the elevated price tag compared to other countries, according to a survey commissioned by the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA).

A study of international software prices by research company CARMA International late last year has shown Australian software prices are often less than other markets and comparable to US prices.

"According to our research, and we think it was conducted with a very open methodology, Australian prices are well under many countries and on a par with the US," said BSAA chairman Jim Macnamara.

The study compared the prices of 62 software products from nine different vendors and found UK prices were on average 22 per cent higher than Australia, while US software titles were on average around three and a half per cent lower. Australian prices included GST, while US prices did not include State sales tax, Macnamara said.

"The results debunk the whole myth that Australians pay more money for software," he said, adding the survey also denounces one of the chief defences for parallel importing - cheaper prices.

"The Government is about to send draft legislation to parliament to eliminate parallel importing restrictions," Macnamara said. "The only real justification is a reduction in software prices, but this survey shows if you further reduce the prices, the peril will be sending retailers out of business."

The results of the study show vendors have not been fully passing on exchange rates and margins in the channel are being constantly squeezed. There was significant variation in prices, Macnamara said, citing recorded prices for Microsoft's Office 2000 Standard varied from $540 to $940.

"We think the government is very short sighted because if the margins are squeezed further, there is the risk that other importers will not supply the services or support for the products," he said.

Photograph: BSAA chairman Jim Macnamara.