On Cloud Computing and Things Outside the US

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ben Kepes


Recently I was on a planning call for a Focus.com roundtable I’m taking part in soon that will explore a discussion around the opportunities, barriers and issues or Cloud computing outside the US – be it US companies selling offshore, or non US companies looking to opportunities in their own domestic markets.

The call had a great mix of smart Cloud folks – all of whom were outside the US. We had Justin Pirie from Mimecast domiciled in the UK. Steve Willmott from 3Scale called in from Barcelona. Anders Trolle-Schulz was the Scandinavian representative and I was the APAC spokes person.

I was struck during the call by just how big the opportunity for Cloud and commerce generally is outside of the US – we all agreed that while the US is a massive potential market of some 300 Million citizens, that leaves a good 6.5 Billion or so people elsewhere to worry about – seems then something of a mistake to concentrate effort on what is less than 5% of the total addressable market.

Something that happened the other day really brought the issues around this home to me. I’d decided to buy a screen protector for my new Samsung Galaxy Tablet that all attendees at the GoogleIO event received. After trawling a little on the web I decided that the Skinomi TechSkin protector was the best option – I went on in, dutifully filled out the order form including a delivery address in the US. Entered my credit card and submitted the order.

Confirmation arrived soon after and my protector was on its way. Or was it? 24 hours later I received an email saying:

Hello, I am with Skinomi Customer Service, and I regret to inform you that we had to cancel your order due to the fact that we no longer accept international credit cards.

Now a point of clarification – I live in New Zealand. Not Nigeria. Not the home of the Russian mafia. Not the source of every scam ecommerce order under the sun. Yes I know the concerns around international mail orders. I own a business which sells physical goods around the world and, yes, we take extra care when receiving orders from particular countries.

But what Skinomi is doing here is shutting off commerce with fully 95% of the global population. And doing so in a way that provides no differentiation between an economy with low levels of credit card fraud (Switzerland for example) and one rife with dodginess (Nigeria springs to mind).

Now many will be asking what possible connection is there between global Cloud Computing and Ben buying a screen protector for his tablet (other than the obvious fact that the Tablet in question is unquestionably a Cloud enabled device)?

Well it seems to me that many of the reasons that Cloud Computing doesn’t have the global footprint that it potentially could can be summed up by my Skinomi experience – closed mindedness, laziness and a perspective that says “why bother with all of them when 300 Million folks will keep us going for years”.

It’s an attitude which is woefully shortsighted – at some point in time Cloud vendors in every particular niche will think globally. When they do so there will be a lot of pain for vendors who have been looking inwards all these years.

And yeah, one day I’ll be able to buy a tablet screen protector despite the fact that I live someplace outside of the US.

Cross-posted from Diversity

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