For years we have been reading about the latest greatest gadgets on Gizmodo or Engadget only for the product never to see the light of day here in the US. Everything from ultra-portable laptops (not UMPCs, but 1-2 pound laptops) to the car that can parallel park itself not to mention high-speed wireless networks. So why don’t American’s always get the newest and coolest gizmos?
According to an article on Yahoo! News there are several reasons. First, manufacturers of innovative gizmos want to keep the newest technologies in country to fix any design flaws before hitting the US market. Companies also want to make sure they have a marketable product for US consumers before spending money to export. Some products are not exported to the US due to performance issues as well… not with the gizmo, but with the state of US infrastructure technologies. For example, the newest smartphone may not work with our cellular providers and a new videophone works better with higher speed wireless networks than what is available in the US. One of the main reasons American gizmo-lovers get the short end of the stick is the fact that the US tech market takes its cue from business needs and not individuals meaning we get cheaper gizmos than more expensive but more innovative gizmos.
Moving on to cultural differences… Americans tend to look for the bargain while gadget lovers around the world are willing to pay for their transgressions (love of all things innovative). Also, Americans want the bigger, better, faster, grunt grunt grunt machine and are willing to carry a 10 pound laptop while other markets value ultra-portability and will accept less performance and capacity for a 2 pound laptop.
Finally, it all comes down to the money. Some companies in Europe and Japan simply do not enter the American market because their profit margins are next to nothing. Companies entering the American market would have to setup customer service to support the large market. Sometimes the money and effort involved to gain a patent in the US market is not worth being able to sell to Americans either. Unfortunately, US patent law is very different than in Japan or Europe.