From PC World:
The full version of Microsoft Office 2007 on Amazon.com costs $290.49 (while the home and student version costs $89.99. I just read the original Business Week article. I couldn't tell whether the $29 version in China is the full version. But even if it isn't, this is a huge price break for the Chinese.
Image from johannes-eva.net
In order to take a bite out of piracy, Microsoft sells copies of its Office Suite in China for just $29 dollars. I wonder how many copies Americans would have to pirate to get the same price? So much for the notion that "crime does not pay!"
I found the pricing information earlier today in a BusinessWeek story about how Microsoft is slashing prices to grab market share and fight off Google and the others that are giving away functionality Microsoft customers are used to paying for.
The magazine said Microsoft estimates 95 percent of all copies of Office used in China are illegal copies. Since the $29 pricing started in September, sales of Office have supposedly increased 800 percent.
This looks like a case of where crime pays big dividends. And, no, I am not suggesting for readers to pirate copies of Office in order to send Redmond a pricing message.
Still, we Westerners have been paying through the nose for Office for almost two decades. If anyone deserves a price break, it's us--not the thieving Chinese. But, it seems that if you are a fast-growing market, lawlessness aside, Microsoft wants to cut you a deal.
I understand what Microsoft is doing and why. I am happy for anything that reduces software theft, but that doesn't make me nearly as happy as a $29 copy of Office would.
I can see why this remarkable discrepancy in price would be frustrating for American users of Microsoft Office. It does, in some sense, seem to be rewarding pirating software.
I'm tempted to bring up the differences in cost of living between the two countries (ie. things are more expensive in America than in China), but really, when it comes to computers and high-tech stuff, the prices are pretty much the same. In fact, a lot of techie items, from my experience, are more expensive in China than in America.
The most obvious solution to this wide gap in prices is for Microsoft to significantly lower its prices in America. Given new challenges from Google, open source word processors, and surely many more challengers to the Office platform, I would have to imagine that in five years, a newest version of Microsoft Office will not cost $300.