Who really never gets anything?

naoca eyeglasses case Every time Apple comes out with a new product or idea (e.g. AppleStore, iTunes Music Store, and iPod Mini), some foreigner screams bloody murder and how unfair it is. This bothers me because it is the height of hypocrisy. These people are probably playing Final Fantasy X International Edition which is available in every region but Region 1. Last time I checked, Friends is a United States show, but every season was out on DVD in Great Britain while they were still trying to sell “Best of…” crap to the Americans. And how many times have they watched Americans anxiously await cell phones that have been selling for years in Asia and Europe? The Playstation Portable is outselling the Nintendo DS in Japan, where is it in the US?

My freshmen room mate in college was from Idaho. He told me you don’t see any good potatoes in Idaho because they export all their best ones. Contrast that with Japanese domestic brands which are superior and never sold outside of Japan.

But this entry isn’t about domestic brands, Friends Season X on DVD, cell phones, or PSP—those things eventually make it to the United States. Nor is it about the iPod Mini since that eventually made it to Europe and Asia. This entry isn’t even about some pissy Europeans.

fortune cookie bag openThis is about the little things that never make it outside of their country because most people’s idea of good design is whatever everyone else is buying.1 From a local Walmart,2 I can get something US-designed, Chinese-made that the only way I won’t regret buying it is by rationalizing how little I paid for it. As for design, most of our idea of good “European design” can be summed up in taking the previous sentence and replacing “US” with “Swedish” and “Walmart” with “Ikea.”3fortune cookie bag open Yeah if I want to be shit on, I can pay for the privilege, but why can’t I get something decent? I remember Naoka Hirota’s fortune cookie bag: it is a two-dimensial half-circle when opened; it is a three-dimensional fortune cookie when worn. The pictures here show the beauty of this backpack/handbag and yet, six years after I first read about it in ID magazine, I have yet to see anyone in the United States wearing one. It’s a shame. Every woman in the United States suffers because Britney Spear’s (or her agent) is too white trailer trash to recognize something cute and cool and it isn’t manufactured by some sexual slave in Burma.

I seemed to have lost the cases that came with my glasses. The image at the top is a set of Hirota-designed eyeglass cases that I’ll not be able to buy to replace mine.

Who really never gets anything? All of us, wherever we are—all we get is a whole lot of nothing.

1…and Dell is selling. Apple people are weird because they hang so heavily on rumors, but perhaps there is a reason: What would a Dell rumor sound like? I use computers and monitors every day, but would rather save that $5 for a cup of coffee. Go figure.
2 Walmart has a particularly bad record with me—I have purchased from there three times and regretted every purchase for various reasons. It took me years to realize that Sam’s Club is no Costco, but that was because there was no Costco in Illinois. Those experiences are probably why I like to pick on them. Honestly, it isn’t about their “evil” business practices, my main bitch is that a Walmart parking lot sits between me and Trader Joe’s. Driving is stressful enough as it is.
3 On the other hand, we can take things to the other extreme. Elite Designers Against Ikea is a Ikea-designed tongue-in-cheek website that shows what happens when that happens. Be sure to watch the anti-anti-commercials, which are wonderful. Not counting eating lunch there, I have made two decent purchases from Ikea: flourescent light bulbs and pot hangers. Granted, that’s better than Walmart but why did I have to wander for half an hour looking for the checkout? Do you design your stores to have horrible traffic patterns on purpose? (Am I the only one who goes through Ikea thinking that your product names are silently making fun of me in Swedish? Does “EFFECTIV” translate to, “only stupid Americans would buy this crap?”)

8 thoughts on “Who really never gets anything?

  1. What a lame and useless diatribe. So you are bitching about a few people in Europe who complain about limited access to technology, and at the same time, recognize that Americans do it more often. What a moron.
    BTW, the term “foreigners” is considered poor form. Ignorant even. Still, perhaps the foreigners should expect this from an American.

  2. No, the term “foreigners” was grammatically incorrect, I should have used the singular. Its use was “expedient” not “poor form” since I’m referring to anyone outside the United States in reference to Apple. If I wanted to be politically correct I’d suppose I’d say something like “everyone not living in the United States who doesn’t regularly get packages from someone in the prospective country.”

    The sentence was an obvious over-generalization and just as obviously touched a nerve. I guess you are one of the people whining about how you couldn’t purchase any music from iTunes Music Store and then suing Apple for their “anti-competitive DRM” when they finally did secure the licensing to come out with it in your country, over-late and overpriced.

    The point of this article was that if something is popular enough, it does make it across from one country to another. Nobody should bother bitching about those things. I could care less about Friends DVDs or Final Fantasy X International Edition and I can wait for a PSP or a cell phone that I don’t need. I’m bitching about the things that don’t make it from one country to another, not because “foreigners” are servicing their domestic market first, but simply because the target market is too vertical.

    I chose an example of something from Japan that you can’t find in the U.S. or Europe because there is “no market” for it. I could have easily chosen something in the United States that you can’t get in Europe if I could think of anything. I don’t know what we have here that you want and will never get because the it is a long tail item. Maybe it’s Hummel figurines. In your case it’s probably an effective MAO inhibitor.

    The internet was supposed to fix this–it obviously hasn’t. Instead, because of the Internet, we now KNOW about these things (but we still can’t get them).

    E-commerce was about selling into the long tail. Prima facia, the reason this hasn’t happenned is because the cost of importation. Wasn’t globalization and free trade supposed to solve this? Instead of catering to the long tail, efficient trade has solved the problem if providing me the same mediocre desk at work that I have at home, even though they were purchased at completely different times by different people. Thanks Ikea!

  3. Carl, I pretty much agree, but it is not exactly a useless diatribe.

    This article does demonstrate the wave of xenophobia and ignorance that seems to be growing these days.

    The author does not appear to understand the trade issues involved nor does he appear to be able to form a coherent argument.

    sad…

  4. Carl, I agree.

    The article’s rant shows shows that he’s just another xenophobic american who doesn’t realize how inferior his country is. It’s people like him that are polluting our internet by posting articles on his own server.

    About the only thing I agree with is how he constantly rips on the Japs. God, I hate xenophobic Americans and Japs! What a whining bunch of cultural imperialists they are!

    Americans like the poster don’t understand that the intricacies of our superior legal system. I heard their barristers don’t even wear wigs to court!

    pathetic…

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