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Apple revives long dead marketing practice

When I first started in the technology business, the practice of marketing differently in various geographies was common.  The same product might be sold in Canada for 10% more than it cost in the United States.  And watch out if you were European – 100% mark-ups were common.  Ostensibly companies localized products for various markets, which justified the mark-up.  The reality, however, was that English-language product sold in Canada was virtually identical to that sold in the US,  French-language product sold in Canada was virtually identical to France, and so on.   The result was a thriving “grey-market” where US product would be imported into Canada, and French-Canadian product re-exported to France.

Thankfully that practice has mostly died.  The advent of the internet brought that change.  That is, until now.

You see, Apple’s app store is reviving the practice of restricting access to products in different markets. Two very large corporations this week have released products that are only available to US customers – News Corp, with the Daily for iPad, and Microsoft, with OneNote for iPhone / iPad.  Microsoft event sent me email inviting me to try OneNote, which is apparently free “for a limited time”.  But when I went to actually install the app, iTunes said no-way, Jose!

Boo.  Hiss.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • alex February 10, 2011, 4:57 pm

    Good observation, but I'm not sure whether this comes from Apple or News Corp.
    Could it also be a content licensing issue like with music or video?
    For example, CBC makes TV content available on the internet only within Canada. Same with the BBC in the UK, and they have explicitly said it is due to licensing rights, which are not under their full control, since production of programming is largely outsourced.

    As for apps, it is entirely up to the developer, in which country app stores it appears. And developers must consider licensing, tax, and other potential legal constraints in different countries.

    So I think it is less about marketing tactics, but that the legal system has not caught up yet with the internet age.

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