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Developers: Non-Americans Would Like to Try Your Apps Too

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Picket sign: "Unfair, locked out"So yesterday I heard about Craiggers, a website that displays Craiglist ads in a better and more useful format than the original site. Excellent! As is my wont, I thought I’d have a little bit of a play and a fiddle, and maybe mention it in a later blog post. Only I couldn’t.

See, while it’s true that Craiggers uses Craigslist data, it only does so for the USA. Nowhere else, not even America’s Hat, aka Canada. Now I hate to nitpick, but when major tech blogs are describing you as “Craiglist, only better” I expect that to be the whole of Craigslist, not just your corner of the site.

Now, Craiggers isn’t the worst culprit for this sort of behaviour, just the most recent example of a particular… provincialism, let’s say, that besets a lot of the tech world. In a sense, I can understand it: the centre of tech is in Silicon Valley, which is in the USA, so when a new startup is looking for a market, the first people it will cater to will most likely be Americans.  Perfectly logical, right?

Well, yes and no. On the one hand, if you can develop an app that works wicked-cool for people in the Land of the Free, and they’re willing to pay you pots of money for it, have at it. But there are only so many Americans, and the rest of us might like the chance to use your shiny new offering too. If your app is set up in a way that is dependent on my having a US zip code or if it just doesn’t allow for the fact that people do live outside the United States, you’re effectively telling several hundred million people that you don’t want their custom.

It isn’t just apps, tech blogs and websites are very US-centric too, and again, I can understand why, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s all very well staying within an English-speaking, American-focused bubble if that’s what you want, but it does mean you are wilfully ignoring the majority of internet and software users, who are not citizens of the USA. That’s not just an oversight, that’s bad business.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it hurts to be ignored, and that developers who see their market soley in terms of the US market are, with a few exceptions, doing themselves no favours. I’m not calling for a law or regulations to make everything international the minute it is goes into alpha testing, just asking the developers of the world to remember that the world is round and has more than 50 states.

Are you a developer from outside the United States? Do you have an app that you’d like me to test? Drop me a line and I might make it my Freeware of the Week!

[Image by B I R D]

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