Apple this morning confirmed plans to standardise its European iTunes prices within six months.
The company has agreed to lower UK iTunes prices to match the already standardised pricing on iTunes across Europe in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain.
Apple is set to lower the price it charges UK users to bring it in line with the rest of Europe. This means that the price of an iTunes track will fall from 79p to approximately 66p within the next six months.
The move is a response to an EU investigation into iTunes pricing. Apple claimed that it initially wanted a pan-European pricing structure, but under its existing relationships with music labels, Apple currently must pay some labels more to distribute their music in the UK than it pays them to distribute the same music elsewhere in Europe.
Apple stated that it "will reconsider its continuing relationship in the UK with any record label that does not lower its wholesale prices in the UK to the pan-European level within six months."
“This is an important step towards a pan-European marketplace for music,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope every major record label will take a pan-European view of pricing.”
The move is unlikely to be resisted by too many major labels. The European Commission has been investigating such pricing practices since April 2007, when it accused Apple and the majors (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG) of engaging in unfair pricing for online sales.
The issue is that European music fans are charged different amounts for an iTunes song depending on their location - and can’t shop for music in another European territories store.
Apple has consistently argued that it wanted to create a single store with a single set price for Europe, but had been prevented from doing so by the major labels.