A World Without (Commercial) Borders

So, Maki(of Maki is not a Nameless Cat) has run headlong into another example of the “wonders” of internet commerce. Apparently, it is not possible for you to purchase Google videos from certain IP addresses that are registered outside of certain countries. (U cough S cough A) This is similar to the practices of the iTunes Music Store, and our good friend Go-Daddy.com. Similar, but subtly different, and here’s why…

My account was recently cancelled by Go-Daddy for purchasing their service from Japan (on a Japanese IP), from an American company, on a credit card with a Canadian billing address. You can read that post here, so I won’t get into details about why I think Go-Daddy is overstepping it’s bounds in trying to prevent credit card fraud, and how that’s my credit card company’s job (which they have done well at up until now).

Recently, Saturday Night Live released a very funny little video, “Lazy Sunday”, on the iTunes music store. With my personal obsession with video quality, I immediately clicked the link, logged in, and was told that I was not able to view the free clip. It seems that the video is only available for residents of the United States, and my iTunes account is registered in Canada.

Finally, Maki was attempting to download a free video from the new Google Video service. This service also is releasing “for pay” video downloads of certain television shows, and other video material. However, because her request originated from a ???Japanese??? IP, she was denied access.

All of these cases share one very important point; they inconvenience the customer. In order to get my Go-Daddy account up and running, I had to fax a copy of my passport to them, and wait 3-4 days for processing; quite a bit of work for an account I paid $3.00 for and set up in under 15 minutes. Unless I somehow procure an American credit card, I may never be able to download the iTunes video. However, items tend to trickle out of the American iTunes store and into it’s international variants, so it could just be a matter of time. As well, I can access my countries iTunes store from whatever county I may be in. The Google video issue, is less easy to solve, requiring you to either actually BE in the US before downloading, or use an elaborate system of Proxies, something that the average consumer just wanting to watch an NBA game is probably not able to do.

The most tragic thing, is that all of these companies have a large stake in the internet, and in people familiar with technology. The early adopters are going to be those on the bleeding edge, and people who are mostly of the mind that the internet is somewhat of an international bazaar; a world without borders. In fact, these early adopters are usually the very people who found these types of companies. What does it say when even the leading web companies can’t fulfill the dreams of their founders.