The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 15:35

High prices? Just stop using the software


Why is it suddenly news that US technology companies have been ripping off customers in Australia (and, indeed, most of the rest of the world) by charging them exorbitant prices?

Could it be because some politicians have suddenly thought it would be a good idea to form a panel and act like heroes by questioning the big tech companies in public? Just to demonstrate that they are on the side of the public - an act that would certainly not be detrimental to their fortunes with elections around the corner?

Anyone who is half-savvy knows that this kind of over-charging is an old game. The local dealers are no angels either. Back in 1999, I recall buying a CD-ROM drive from Harvey Norman for $110 for a wealthy client of mine. A few weeks later, after being introduced to the wonderful world of computer swap meets by a friend who was more down-to-earth, I  bought a similar drive for $60.

And a month or two later, by chance, another friend who was in the computer retail business sold me a drive, which also had casing to enable its use as an external drive, for $35. He said he had been given a whole box of the drives towards settlement of a debt by a trader who had gone out of business.

Web Analytics
Look at the difference in those prices. Even my friend made his margin. Harvey Norman was a good 200% ahead of him on prices.

Technology repair shops do it too. A decade back, I watched a computer repair shop owner charge a woman $60 for removing a floppy drive which was stuck in her laptop. She came into the shop at 9am and he asked her to come back at 3pm to pick it up. All for a job which required about 20 seconds of jiggling around with a straightened paper clip.

Ripping off is in the blood when it comes to the tech business. People are hard-wired to do it. Consider the fact that provision of e-tax software for Mac users this year cost the ATO $52 million. (These worthies are not interested in a web-based solution that would cover every single computer user - though their counterparts in New Zealand have been somewhat more insightful.)

But leave that aside. There's a good way to get out of this morass of higher prices. Whinging may  be a favourite pastime but it isn't going to bring the price down.

There's a more fundamental way of doing it - just stop buying the product. Stop using it.

Windows costing too much? Switch to a free operating system like GNU/Linux or any of the BSDs. The latter are free not only in terms of money but also give you a chance to access the source code and change what you like.

Microsoft Office costing the earth? Move to the free office suites LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice. Hardly anyone uses more than 20 per cent of the features that are available in MS Office anyway. And the free suites do not lock you in to proprietary formats.

Ask those politicians why the Australian government itself is so beholden to Microsoft and the other big technology companies when it can easily switch most of its functions to cheaper, better software. Could it be donations to election war chests that are the reason?

Ask the Greens, who have moved a good percentage of their IT infrastructure to free operating systems, how they do it.

But will the public revolt? Will people decide that they have had enough? Will businesses start thinking of moving to software that is good, free and does not neccessitate endless hardware upgrades to run at a decent speed?

Somehow, I doubt it. But whinging about higher prices will go on apace, of that you can be sure.

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here


The much awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include: Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products available for any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.



iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.


Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous




Guest Opinion

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News