Globalization

Globalization has been a buzzword for such a long time now that it is easy to forget that it has not happened yet.

At least, not for me.

A large part of my shopping, the majority, in fact, is done online these days.  The two largest stores I go to, so to speak, are Amazon.com and iTunes.  Between these two stores, I am able to get music, movies, TV shows, garden tools, exotic candies, and whatever else I may want.

Both companies, Amazon and Apple, have done a very good job of setting up localized stores.  There are .co.jp addresses for both websites, with perfect Japanese translations (which does me no good) and local shipping (which does me a lot of good).

However, I still need two seperate logins and accounts for each store.  I have seperate accounts for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.jp, likewise with Apple.com (iTunes) and Apple.co.jp.  Why is this?  Why am I not able to utilize one address for what is essentially the same store, but a localized account?  After all, I do not need seperate bodies to go into the Apple store in New York and the Apple store in Ginza.

The answer, as near as I can tell, after reading the various legal statements from both companies, is that each person’s account is linked to a credit card.  Since I live in Japan, and want to use a credit card issued by a Japanese bank (much easier to pay, since I can do so in a much more timely manner as well as ease of proximity), I must use the Japanese stores.  And vice versa, when I want to shop at the U.S. stores, I need to use an American card.

Let me see if I can make this a little more clear.

When I shop at the iTunes Music Store through the browser built into my iTunes software, it asks me to login.  I can login with my U.S. ID, but only if I want the charges billed to my U.S. based card.  I am unable, in the settings and preferences, to specify a Japanese held card because I am unable to change the country setting in the billing address section of the account management page.  The reverse holds true for the Japanese account.  This means that if I want to buy the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers album, I must either use a credit card based in the U.S., and which is difficult for me, as a resident of Japan, to pay, or, I must use a credit card based in Japan, which is easy to pay, but I am limited to Japanese in the tag information of the files downloaded.

The same holds true for Amazon, althought they are slightly better and working to improve the synchronization and equalization of services between the main site and the localized sites.

So, for me, at least, globalization can not really be said to be being achieved until someone like myself, who has a home base in two different countries is not forced to maintain two seperate accounts for the same store or service, but is able to use a single card / ID to maintain a single, manageable account, no matter where their physical body is located at any given time.

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Filed under Left From Seattle, True Thoughts on True Life

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