For the media-hungry expat, portable devices like iPads and Kindles are a godsend. But if expats are clearly a perfect demographic, why is it so difficult for us to access the content from abroad and why are we subjected to such irrelevant marketing?
For example, the other day I tried to download a game to my PSP (PlayStation Portable) device. I’m an English expat living in Spain, so I tried to use the Spanish PlayStation Store to make the purchase. However, there was no option to download an English-language game, it automatically assumed that because I was based in Spain that Spanish was my first language and I’d only be interested in Spanish products.
Fair enough, so I tried the UK store, which solved the language issue but raised a new one in that I needed a UK credit card to make the purchase. Eventually, I found that I could get round the credit card issue by purchasing a physical PlayStation Network card for 20€, but waiting for that to be delivered sort of defeats the object of being able to instantly download titles… It’s a similar story with iTunes. Lovefilm’s movie steaming app cannot be used outside of the UK (although it does accept the Spanish credit card). Same with the US equivilant Netflix.
And it’s not only content that doesn’t pay much attention to the needs of expats – the marketing attached can be completely off the mark too. One music video streaming app I used persistently showed me an ad for Waitrose chain of supermarkets in the UK, which has no relevance to me as an expat. Top music-streaming application Spotify presents a similarly poor marketing campaign, broadcasting ads in Spainsh and suggesting Spanish musicians I have far less interest in than English-language artists.
So why is it that these giant companies seem to be passing on the expat market? Is it that they make so much money from native consumers that they simply don’t care? Or is the technical side of implementing multi-language content the thing that’s hard to get to grips with?
Seeing as expats, or even travellers, are clearly acknowledged as a prime target for handheld digital devices, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure the content is easily accessible with relevant marketing attached to it?