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Little Bits and Pieces

December 5th, 2004

I am fighting off a bad throat cold (it seems I get no other kind) and working up to final exams, so not much today. But there are a few things:

Lycos Europe has the right idea. They’ve got a screensaver that, while the computer is idle and connected to the Internet, junk data is transmitted to web servers known as dedicated spam servers. The idea is to choke them right back, just as they choke our email, blogs, and whatever else they can get their slimy little paws into. Unfortunately, I can’t find the screensaver on Lycos Europe at present, though I haven’t spent too much time. If I find it, I’ll install it.

The yen is at 102.1 to the dollar. This will be a great shopping deal for me when I go to the U.S. You can check up-to-date exchange rates here.

It was great weather out today. Pity I couldn’t enjoy it more. Brought in by the unseasonable typhoon, we had 25-degree C temps and crystal clear skies.

This won’t be the big headline in Japan tomorrow morning. Not even a little one, I’d wager.

These people need to get a sense of reality. Apparently, a lot of people are irked that the iTunes music store charges differently depending on the country. Well, duh. When is that not the case? For example, music CDs cost under $20 in the U.S., but almost $30 in Japan. Everything costs differently everywhere. You expect the Internet to make things different? Get real.

By the way, Fahrenheit 9/11 finished at the box office with $220,000 worldwide. I’ll have to see if anyone lists DVD sales numbers to get the grand total.

One last bit. On the IMDB Studio Briefing, they tell the story of how, when the Wizard of Oz first played on TV in color in 1956, CBS was flooded with complaints by people with expensive new color TV sets. The problem: they complained that the opening sequence of the film was broadcast in black and white.

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  1. December 6th, 2004 at 05:00 | #1

    “The yen is at 102.1 to the dollar. This will be a great shopping deal for me when I go to the U.S.”

    And my monthly shipment of product from Japan is due to arrive tomorrow, meaning I have to pay the supplier this week. I cringe to think after the banks cut what rate I will get. For the first time ever, since I started doing this, it may hit 99 yen to the dollar.

    Think I will go sob in the corner while cursing Bush’s name

  2. Paul
    December 6th, 2004 at 12:41 | #2

    [i]You expect the Internet to make things different? Get real.[/i]

    On the contrary, there’s essentially *zero* reason for intellectual property delivered electronically to have a different price in a different nation.

    For a CD, sure, there’s good reasons for it to cost differently. But for a stream of ones and zeros, delivered electronically? No way.

    Market forces, costs of shipping, costs of doing business in another nation, fuel costs, storage costs, warehousing costs, different taxation levels, and so forth all add up to mean that I can understand why a physical product has a different price.

    But when you buy a song from Itunes, there’s two types of costs involved in the production/delivery of that song- and those costs are more or less IDENTICAL for whatever nation you’re in.

    You have the costs of actually producing the music- the costs of the recording artists, the cost of the studio, the costs of the people who work on the record’s production, mixing, and so forth; and you have the costs of putting that music online and maintaining your database. For both physical and electronically delivered products, these costs are fixed- they’re the same for all nations.

    However, the costs for *delivery* of a song in bits and bytes are basically the same for all nations.

    The song has to go from the computer server the song is sitting on to the buyer’s computer. From the server’s point of view, those costs are the same, whether the song is being sent through the internet to the building next door or through the internet to Bangalore, India.

    The only difference that might exist is in individual nation’s levels of taxation on internet purchases. For example, in the USA there is no national sales or VAT tax on stuff you buy on the internet; there are state/local sales taxes that are applied from time to time. Canada, on the other hand, might have a different situation. (Odds are that it’s not CHEAPER to do business there, though, given their generally higher levels of taxation on… nearly everything.)

    So these people you referred to DO have a point- there’s really not much good reason, other than varying levels of taxation on internet purchases, for a song to have differing costs in differing nations.

    The only real reason the things cost differently is because they can GET more money from people. There’s a lot more people willing to pay 99 cents US for songs IN the USA than there are in, say, South Africa- where Apple might wind up charging the equivalent of, say, 39 cents US.

    Personally, this fits right into a theory I have about race relations in the USA. My theory is that racial differences count a heck of a lot less than plain old MONEY differences- where you (and your family) sits on the income/socio-economic scale has a lot more to do with how you’re treated than whether you’r black, white, yellow, red, or some other color.

    But that’s another rant. :)

    Enumclaw, WA

  3. Luis
    December 6th, 2004 at 13:08 | #3

    You expect the Internet to make things different? Get real.

    On the contrary, there’s essentially *zero* reason for intellectual property delivered electronically to have a different price in a different nation.On the contrary yet again, there are reasons. (You pointed out at least two good ones after stating there were zero, but I’ll reply to the first statement.) I didn’t say they were good reasons, though a few are. One good reason is because the prices at the online stores do have to be set relative to brick-and-mortar, in a sense–I suspect that the Japanese store, once it is up, will probably not be priced at 100 yen, same reason why the stores here sell music CDs at twice the U.S. price. It’s not because of taxation, it’s because of price-rigging. If Japan started selling tunes at 100 apiece, iTunes store or otherwise, it would probably hit the brick-and-mortar stores and even more badly hit the music labels here.

    Second, why wouldn’t taxation apply (as even you pointed out)? I’m not completely sure of this, but I have the feeling that some countries would do things differently–some may indeed tax Internet sales within their borders–seller and buyer both in-country. Higher income taxes for corporations might spur that; they’d have to change their price structure to compensate for higher tax rates.

    And then there’s perhaps the biggest variable: whatever the market will bear (which you also touched on). Japanese will likely pay a higher price, like $2 per song, happily. Why would the music labels selling in Japan sell for $1 when they could easily get $2? Not to mention the difference in local incomes–if your monthly salary is $45 a month, you won’t buy too many songs that way. And finally, there’s the common “we just decided it that way” rationale. Certainly common enough in Japan, other countries too, I am sure.

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