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What did Europe do to annoy Adobe? (And how can we fix it?)

Good news everyone! Adobe just made Creative Cloud the official replacement for Creative Suite, with all their new developments now exclusively going into their rental apps which, to be fair, are quite affordable compared with buying outright (at commercial rates, at least). And while I’m still trying to work out if I’m in any way whelmed by the new features (we’re mostly talking workflow tweaks and fixes for retina displays, as far as I can tell so far), at least the price is staying the same.

But about that price… It’s $49.99 (=£32.17 at today’s exchange rates) per month for the complete package in the US (best rate, assuming an annual commitment). In the UK, at £46.88 a month, that’s a 46% premium. Why?

We have to include VAT for you – blame the government!” is the first standard response. VAT is 20% – so why a 46% mark up?

What other excuses are there? “We’re exporting to a different market – blah, blah – market conditions blah – everywhere is different blah…” or perhaps “Currency rates go up and down, we can’t help that, must be a bad day today…” Except it’s not. I’ve checked. (And you can read my working at the end if you like…)

Around the world, at today’s exchange rates the price is the same within 5% everywhere except for Argentina (5.9% cheaper than the US, lucky them), Singapore (7.2% more expensive, but they are loaded there…), and Europe where, believe it or not, Britain gets the best deal.

Most expensive countries to buy Adobe Creative Cloud, May 2013

  1. Sweden: £55.60 per month (73% higher than US, local sales tax is 25%)
  2. Norway: £53.73 per month (67% higher, local sales tax is 25%)
  3. Eurozone: £51.73 per month (61% higher, sales taxes vary from 7.6% in Liechtenstein to a more common 19 to 23% elsewhere)
  4. Denmark: £51.38 per month (60% higher, local sales tax is 25%)
  5. Switzerland: £48.14 per month (50% higher, local sales tax is 8%)
  6. Britain: £46.88 per month (46% higher, our VAT is 20%)
  7. Singapore: £34.49 per month (7% higher than US)

Out of 29 currency markets where Creative Cloud is currently sold globally, it’s only Europe getting gouged – at least, it is now.

You might remember that about a year ago, Australia made a big fuss about this very issue and commissioned a government probe into “price gouging” on downloadable software. Australian customers used to be charged $62.99 (AUS) per month for Creative Cloud. In February this year, a month before the public hearings set to bring Adobe and other software companies to account – they could respond however they wished in a free market – Adobe pre-empted criticism by simply lowering the price of Creative Cloud to $49.99 (AUS). Exchange rates make that just 2.5% more expensive than the US price today.

So if they can do it, why can’t we? I’m not getting all UKIP and thinking life would be better outside the EU – Norway and Switzerland are outside the union and they’re getting screwed over worse than us. But I thought the whole point of a big common market was to have the collective economic power to make good deals. So how can we use this to avoid getting ripped off?

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