Want a dual screen netbook? You can get one, if you fly to Japan. Intrigued by the possibility of a tablet with a 1366 x 768 display and a unique UI on top of the Meego OS? Book a flight to Germany. Want a stylish 11-inch ThinkPad Edge with a lot more power and battery life than the X100e? You’ll find it on sale in jolly old England, but not here in the U.S.
In many ways, the tech industry functions as if this shiny new thing called the Internet doesn’t exist and people in Topeka won’t know what’s being sold in Taipei. But in 2010, the minute a new gadget hits store shelves in Akihabara or gets posted for pre-order on Amazon Germany, everyone hears about it. In fact, we recently compiled a list of top gadgets you can’t buy in the U.S. and had trouble whittling it down to just 10.
Why can’t you just buy the best mobile tech that manufacturers anywhere in the world have to offer? There’s a cost to marketing and selling a mobile tech product in each country and—whether it’s a vendor who says “no” or a retailer that won’t stock the product—nobody wants to lose money on a poor seller.
Unfortunately, when the powers that be decide not to bring all the best gear here, many times they’re operating on some poor assumptions about a 300 million-person market in one of the world’s most diverse countries. Here are some of the common misconceptions they carry:
So what can Americans do to combat these prejudices and ensure they get a fair shot at the most innovative mobile tech? First, we can vote with our wallets for portable technologies by purchasing more ultraportable notebooks and MIDs. Second, we can reward retailers such as Dynamism who stock more obscure devices that are hard to come by on these shores. And finally, we need to make our voices heard by complaining to vendors when they don’t bring us their best.
However, ultimately the best solution lies in the vendors’ hands. In the 21st century, there’s no valid excuse for treating each country as a separate universe. Vendors should take the bold initiative of setting up global commerce sites that ship the same products to dozens or hundreds of different countries. This would require not only a willingness to ship products across borders, but also the flexibility to throw a different AC adapter in the box, depending on local electrical system.
Microsoft and other software vendors need to help by making international versions of Windows and popular apps like Office so users can set the language when they first turn a new notebook on. My TV has the ability to change menu languages on the fly. So should my computer.
Americans should be able to get the best technology the world has to offer as soon as it becomes available. Global consumers in a global economy deserve no less.
Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch oversees the production and infrastructure of LAPTOP’s web site. With a reputation as the staff’s biggest geek, he has also helped develop a number of LAPTOP’s custom tests, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. Catch the Geek’s Geek column here every other week or follow Avram on twitter.