Agree that it might be beyond the control of the end seller (ie Apple in this example), however it's still a business choice by someone (ie the record label). The imposition of geoblocking there is an option, not a necessity.
I take your point on legal restrictions on certain content though - at the risk of invoking Godwin's law, I know various continental Europe countries such as Germany ban Nazi/swastika/Hitler references a lot.
What a poor list of excuses they are offering:
- relative market size. Australian population = 22m, Alaska and Hawaii each around 1m. Are they being charged much more than Australia? In fact only Texas and California have more people than Australia.
- exchange rates. The 50% comparison is done on USD terms, so there's no exchange rate effect. Maybe a cost of converting currency but between AUD/ASD and on large amounts of money that should be negligible
- wages. What wages? Most of the software/entertainment is created elsewhere so not impacted by Aus wages, and if it was created locally then an Aus wage effect would hit the price wherever it was sold. Plus I doubt Australians are paid 50% more than Americans ...
- freight charges. For downloadable software? Plus for physicals ordered online, that should be covered in the shipping cost not the cost of the item. Also it doesn't cost USD20 to ship an individual game costing USD40 to Australia, much less cost that much when you're shipping a crate of them.
- local sales taxes. Maybe, but sales tax in the US is around 10% say. This would mean sales tax in Aus is around 60%?
- levies. Unclear what this is?
- import duties. I think if there was an import duty of 50% on US entertainment, the MPAA and friends would be screaming blue murder by now.
- maintain separate websites and servers. Really? You don't need to translate anything from the US version. As such it should be much easier to do for Aus than for, say, France where there is a different language. Hell, even the currency has the same name in Aus. For multiplayer games I can see you may want to have local servers to keep ping times down, but that's specialist - plus how about other far flung territories?
Plus Apple's excluse about local copyright holders - how does that impact the price of the same good in US and Aus?
To my mind MS is the most honest one there. Consumers can vote with their wallets by buying elsewhere, for example by buying Apple or Linux machines (the "can't because of geoblocking" is missing the point - you don't vote with your wallet by going to a different branch of the same store, you vote by going to a different store)
We've already seen their response to people releasing meta-data on their surveillance efforts. They're hounded across the world, pinned down in a Russian airport with sovereign planes grounded to try and find them.
I don't think cutting the NSA's funding will help matters.
It only means they will have to turn to alternative sources of funding. They could try bake sales, but I don't think they have much in the way of cookie ingredients. What they do have is a huge amount of personal data on US citizens - which would be very valuable to any number of companies and ad networks out there.
Think it was bad when the government had the data? It'll only get worse when everyone else gets a copy as well!
Metadata is data which describes other data and is thus completely harmless. As an example, Snowden didn't release any of the actual data held by the NSA, only information about it - thus he only released metadata which is ... completely ... um ... harmless ... hang on, scratch that. Guys? We need a better explanation!
I'm shocked to find that spying is going on in here!
Intercepting another country's diplomatic messages is hardly a new, or even undocumented, issue.
After all, in the 18th Century this was done on an industrial scale with the Viennese "Geheime Kabinets-kanzlei" operating so efficiently they were opening, copying and resealing all diplomatic mail in Vienna without disrupting the normal mail delivery. See wikipedia
Allies are only allies at that moment in time, and on that particular instance.
Alliances change, and just because another country supported you on one issue doesn't mean they will on another.
Hence the need for contingency planning.
For example the US set up colour coded war plans for conflict with various nations, including allies - as an example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Plan_Red. I would be surprised if other countries hadn't done so.
"The distinction between a privateer and a pirate has been, practically speaking, vague, often depending on the source as to which label was correct in a particular circumstance. The actual work of a pirate and a privateer is generally the same (raiding and plundering ...)"
Can we start a fight between the MPAA/RIAA and IV?