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  • News - Written by on Thursday, July 14, 2011 16:26 - 4 Comments

    Stop favouring the US, customers tell Google

    US-headquartered technology giant Google is facing a wave of complaints from users around the globe after it launched another in a string of online services which are only available to those who live in the United States.

    On one of its in-house blogs this week, the company revealed it had launched a new marketplace for its Android mobile platform which dramatically expands the platform’s functionality, allowing users to rent movies and purchase books. The Android Market has also been overhauled in general to make it easier for users to find applications.

    However, the book and movie purchasing functionality is limited to customers in the US only, a fact which has drawn the ire of customers located in other regions. “In the US,” wrote one user in response to Google’s blog. “Also in the US, along with Google Music and Google Voice, both available in the US. Here’s to the centre of the universe.”

    “Pity it’s tied to US market only, AGAIN,” wrote another user. “There are so many Google products that are only available in the US that Google is really starting to seem like a US-oriented company,” added a third. “I think this perception will be bad for Google, and I hope you will soon bring more of your services to other countries.”

    “What a load of rubbish,” wrote yet another user. “I should never have dropped my iPhone for an Android. When will these ‘new’ features be available in Australia?”

    Google has launched a string of products over the past few years which have not been available outside its home country of the US in general, and not available in Australia in particular. Google Voice, YouTube Movie Rentals, Google Books, the company’s Chromebook line of laptops and Google Music are some of the products on the list which have not seen a local launch.

    For some time over the past several years, for a period Australian software developers were not able to sell apps through Google’s Android Market platform, due to what appeared to be a problem with Google Checkout, the online payment processing system that allows users to store their credit card information with their Google account.

    The company is not the only one to limit a number of products to the US market only.

    Fellow technology giant Apple appears to normally attempt to launch products as widely internationally as possible — for example, unlike Google, its own iOS platform does feature the ability to buy books online in Australia. And overnight it harmonised many of its software purchase prices internationally. However, also today the company today launched a new bulk app purchasing program for its end user devices — but limited it to US customers only.

    In response to the comments, a Google Australia spokesperson said the company always tried to make its products and services available to as many users and as quickly as possible. “The new Android Market will be rolling out in the coming weeks to Android 2.2 and higher phones around the world,” they said.

    Image credit: Krystle Fleming, royalty free

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    1. Posted 14/07/2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s interesting to note that the services that don’t make it everywhere are more often than not based on 3rd-party content. I wonder whether the middle-persons behind the inflated entertainment media distribution cartels in Australia have something to do with it.

      Not an excuse, but possibly an explanation?

      • R
        Posted 14/07/2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        @Roger, you’re completely right about that. Copyrights are normally only licensed on a national level, which results in services being US-only. AFAIK, nobody has been able to license anything on a global scale yet – the cost probably multiplies for each country you add. Apple has a little more sway in this department because of their deals with the record companies regarding iTunes.

        • Posted 14/07/2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

          However, I find it hard to cut Google any slack whatsoever in this regard, given that Amazon, Apple and Kobo are all selling stacks of eBooks into Australia. Why can’t Google do the same?

          • Clytie Siddall
            Posted 16/07/2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

            OK, Google sells zero ebooks to Australians, but that’s the only reason Amazon, Kobo etc. look better.

            I’ve never actually bought an ebook from Kobo. Every time I follow an Inkmesh search to Kobo, I get told “this ebook is not available in your territory”. Most of the ebooks I really want to buy are “not available” to Australians at Amazon.

            Whenever I contact authors about this, they say, “But I insisted on world rights for ebooks”.

            Publishers seem to have a peculiar view of the contract they signed specifying world rights for ebooks, e.g. “we might eventually release that book in Australia, so that counts”.

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