As you may have noticed (and we reported earlier), Apple has been performing some routine maintenance on iTunes Connect. One theory of why this maintenance is taking place suggests that Apple might be preparing to rebalance their international iTunes pricing.
iTunes Store pricing has arguably spun clean out of whack recently, and as the above diagram demonstrates (click the diagram to see a larger version), the international pricing in iTunes is just not as balanced as it probably ought to be, with Australian customers paying 81% more money for the same content as compared to an American, and Swiss customers paying over twice as much.
The troubles here have been arising due to currency fluctuations – the American dollar has been falling, while other currencies have held their own, or even risen over time. The end result is that the various foreign currencies do not balance out well, leaving certain customers unfairly paying inflated rates for iTunes content.
MacStories’ Graham Spencer provides some important insight here:
Fast-forward to today’s news that iTunes Connect is facing maintenance. If you read the notice, it makes it clear that something is happening to the price mechanism, as the letter reads: “pricing changes made between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PDT will cause the app to become unavailable for purchase until maintenance is complete”.
Whilst that alone doesn’t suggest much, the fact that the notice explicitly mentions that customers may not be able to purchase content from iTunes if in Mexico, U.K., Australia, Switzerland, Japan or Norway really stood out to me. Because (with the exception of Mexico), those mentioned are (mostly) the worst affected regions of the iTunes price disparity
This is an interesting observation, and it seems as though it certainly cannot be a coincidence that those specific countries were singled out in Apple’s email.
Just to set the record straight, this is merely speculation, and until the suggested changes go live (if they do), nobody will know anything about this for certain aside from Apple executives. In the name of fairness, however, it would certainly be a good move.
Aside from these factors, the iTunes maintenance is also very likely to be related and in response to tomorrow’s likely release of Mac OS X Lion.