I literally want to own every new piece of technology, be it gadget, a service, or app. Being in India, this has not been always possible. When the first nexus device was introduced, or when spotify was launched, or even when Google introduced Paid applications, none of which was available for a Indian technology enthusiast living in India.
Being in Valley.
When I was in the valley for a couple of weeks, the most exciting thing to do for me was to grab all the geo specific goodies as long as I can have it. First I went on a bought a Nexus 4, Surface Pro and some other gadgets. It was easier with these physical gadgets as I could carry them with me, wherever I go ( even when I travel back to India). But it was not the same story with software subscriptions and services.
Content fears borders.
Since it understood that my IP is within US borders, it showed me all the cool stuff, like Music, Movies, TV shows, apps like Spotify, Groupon etc, on the play store (which I couldn’t even view when in India), but it wouldn’t let me install (or buy) them. Everything worked seamless with my Indian Credit Card.
Fix: Went to the Google Account Settings and changed my Country to US and bazinga! it opened up access to everything at Google Play.
Back in India: When I came back to India, my account was still working. I even tried buying some music and TV shows from India.
The next one in my wishlist. But it was much more crazy. I tried changing my country settings, but it wouldn’t still let me download even the free apps, as it kept throwing country setting errors. After so much toiling I had to create a new US Amazon account with US bank credentials and stuff.
Back in India: So far everything works fine even when I am not accessing the store from US. I didn’t try music, movies etc.
After using the free trial for a couple of days, I couldn’t resist going premium (world plan). It works seamlessly across the globe, it was even mentioned in the documentation clearly. Only catch, I have to use a US card for the subscription, it wouldn’t accept an overseas card.
Once I tried Spotify and read I explored other streaming services and stumbled upon Rdio, I just tried the trial. But it was a very annoying experience, as they kept sending me daily emails to switch. Once back in India, as I was still getting these emails, I thought I have had enough, so I clicked unsubscribe. To my amazement, I was shown a landing page, “This service is not supported in your region”, I cannot even unsubscribe to their useless newsletter unless I fly back to US. Worst of all!
Netflix was the most fun thing I used when in the States, loved their ubiquity across devices, and simplicity of interface, but the moment I leave the US border, I lose all the awesomeness. No more netflix.
iOS App Store
I had my iDevices linked to my Indian Apple ID, so when I went to US it would still show me US only apps, but I cannot purchase them unless I get a new Apple ID (I didn’t try changing my country settings, so don’t know if that was a fix).
I am a big fan of Flipkart and their Music Store (Flyte) from where I could purchase songs at prices like 10 cents (5 Indian Rupees). I also keep a lot of prepaid credit in the flyte store so that I can just download my favorite albums when I need. But it wouldn’t work once I access it from US.
.Internet has made the world open and smaller. But it still has lot of issues when it comes to content and border laws. Virtual goods, their pricing and taxation are not still in the best shape. It is obviously not in a great state when product developers have to write extra code to make sure the content is not available to certain geographies. I wish this changes in the next couple of years. It would be great for the consumers, content creators and startups!