The news that Apple has accepted it must charge all European Union citizens the same price for iTunes downloads is encouraging - although we're not sure why it will take six months, and the headline on its press release held out the prospect that the rest of Europe might suffer instead:
The body confirms, though, that they intend to drop prices in the UK - just as soon as those rotten labels agree:
“This is an important step towards a pan-European marketplace for music”, said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope every major record label will take a pan-European view of pricing”.
Apple's tune has changed somewhat - it's not so long ago that they were parotting the label's lame excuse of "lots of other things cost more in the UK" as a justification for the gouging of UK consumers.
Obviously, their capitulation to an EU investigation heads off the prospect of an embarrassing lawsuit and the need to refund British customers the part of the price which merely reflected the UK licence, but price harmonisation still seems to fall short of what is demanded by European Law - an EU citizen should be able to shop in any EU country, and discrete stores nation-by-nation, even ones with equal pricing, do not allow that.
Apple blames this on the labels - but maybe it's time for Apple and the EU to team up and force labels to remove this anomaly. After all, if the Commission is serious about a single pan-European music licensing regime, wouldn't this be a good place to start?