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It was meant to be a gala occasion, but it was a PR disaster.

Adobe’s CEO opened the company’s new Sydney offices this week, but questions on the company’s pricing practices took a gloss off the proceedings. Global CEO Shantanu Narayen came to Australia to open the company’s new Sydney HQ and managed to get Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to front the event.

But it didn’t go as Adobe hoped, thanks to the publicity surrounding the company’s pricing after the government demanded it front its IT pricing inquiry this week.

When repeatedly asked by journalists how Adobe could justify charging more than $1400 more in Australia than the US for the same Creative Suite software, Narayen simply refused to answer the question. Instead he waffled on about the company’s move to the cloud and “where we’re headed as a company”.

He looked very uncomfortable, and his evasiveness did little to help Adobe’s reputation  as a price gouger in this country. Adobe’s local boss Paul Robson tried to steer the questions back to the opening of the new office, but the assembled journalists kept hounding him on the pricing issue.

Adobe did lower the Australian price of its Creative Cloud software this week after being summonsed to the inquiry, but it is still higher than the US pricing, and the prices for most of its software remain far higher in this country. As Choice magazine recently highlighted, it's cheaper to fly to the US, buy Creative Suite, and fly back to Australia than it is to buy the product locally.

Oh, and the company actually did open its new offices. They’re very nice – room for 200 staff in Sydney’s Darling Park. With high margins you can afford nice premises.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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