So Adobe unveiled version 5 of their Creative Suite, right in the middle of a flame war about Apple's supposed will to "kill" Flash... And here is something that is probably going to ignite another flame war, but this one is going to rage against Adobe.
I'm talking about their price policy outside of the USA. Let's look at the Design Premium version of CS5, a full copy, not an upgrade. In the USA, it is priced at US$ 1899 for the boxed copy.
In France, the same version is priced... €2749.60! This includes 19.6% VAT, so if you want to compare fairly, that comes at €2299 without taxes.
Converting all this to €, that makes the US boxed CS5 Design premium at €1397.85 versus €2299 in France. Roughly €900 more for the French version.
The usual excuse Adobe serves customers is that the price difference comes from the cost of localising their software in all the various languages. But this is horse manure, as 1) localisation can be included in the global cost of developing the software, like most companies do and 2) if you look at the CS5 Design Premium in Portuguese on the Portuguese Adobe store, it costs €1899 excluding VAT, or €400 less than the French version. If localisation costs were the real reason, the Portuguese version would cost more because 1) there are probably less people with the required skills to localise such a software in Portugal than in France (simply because there are less people in Portugal) and 2) the market for a Portuguese version of CS5 is probably far smaller than for the French version.
And, by the way, if I want to buy the French (or Spanish) version in the USA, the extra cost related to said localisation is... zero:
So, Adobe is gouging their non-US customers on prices.
Then there is the strange issue of boxed copy versus digital download. You can indeed order a boxed copy, complete with (obviously) the box, an install DVD(s) and probably all sorts of paper brochures. Then you can choose to directly download the suite from Adobe servers, which means you don't get all these physical things, plus you have to back it up somewhere just in case. Logic would dictate that the digital download should be cheaper, as it costs far less to Adobe.
Not quite so: in the US, both the physical and digital copies are at exactly the same price:
In France, the box copy is €2749.60 including VAT (as mentioned above), and the digital download is... €2781.79, or €32.19 more!
I would really like Adobe to try and justify (I write "justify" because they can always explain it) this price difference. Maybe when you order a digital copy, they have to pay some Adobe employee to open a shrink-wrapped boxed copy of CS5, rip it to a .dmg file and post it manually to an FTP server for you to dowload, which would explain the extra cost? This, plus all the rest, paints Adobe as trying really hard to be Microsoft.