Brits To Pay Less For iTunes

Apple responds to a European Union pricing investigation but wants U.K. labels to cut distribution costs as well.
Apple on Wednesday said it will lower its music prices on its U.K. iTunes Store to match standardized pricing on iTunes in the rest of the European Union.

The move is partially in response to a European Union inquiry based on a pricing complaint from a British consumer group.

Apple said it charged more for U.K. citizens because Apple pays more to some British recording labels for U.K. distribution. Those same labels charge less to distribute to other Europeans, Apple said.

"This is an important step towards a pan-European marketplace for music," Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said in the announcement. "We hope every major record label will take a pan-European view of pricing."

In addition, Apple said it will consider halting license agreements with British recording labels that won't lower their wholesale prices in the United Kingdom to match the rest of the European market.

"Apple will reconsider its continuing relationship in the U.K. with any record label that does not lower its wholesale prices in the U.K. to the pan-European level within six months," the company said in a news announcement.

The company said prices would drop to match those in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain.

Since the United Kingdom uses pounds while other EU residents use the euro and prices of each fluctuate against the dollar, the difference Brits pay has varied, but it generally amounts to 10 U.S. cents per song.

It's unclear whether the change will also allow European residents to buy music on iTunes from other countries. Right now, if a French citizen wants to download music while visiting Germany, he or she could not do it without a German-issued credit card and address.