Is the overseas view of tech firms affecting our opinion of Caribbean tech businesses?
Are we, Caribbean techies and tech consumers, being (unduly) influenced by the views and opinions of those outside the region?
Among pundits, and even among consumers globally, there seems to be a jaded view of tech products and services, which seems to be reflected in the recent performance of tech stock over the past several months. Essentially, the excitement that would usually be evident when a new product is released, or when a firm decides to float shares on a stock market, has been quite muted.
For example, there had been considerable excitement about the mobile/cellular application, Snap (formerly Snapchat). The company had a very high valuation, and was able to raise a lot of funding during it development process, and even had an impressive start on the New York Stock Exchange a few weeks ago. However, recent reports are that the company’s shares are trading well below their opening price (Source: Inc).
In the Caribbean, we may not be bombarded to the same degree with cutting edge tech products and services, and our tech space may not be as developed as obtains in more developed countries. However, are we beginning to reflect similar views as those outside the region?
At least in the English-speaking Caribbean, we do consume a considerable amount of North American media, as a result, we tend to be very much immersed in the happenings in the United States (US), in particular, and participating in – albeit from our sofas – their experiences. It therefore means that to an appreciable extent, we have been exposed to the virtually all of the tech developments as they are happening, and without us fully realising it, our opinions are being shaped by those reported overseas.
Technology has no boundaries
It is also important to highlight the fact that many of the prominent and newer tech businesses, especially in the US, are eager for global take up of their product/service offerings, especially when the quality or nature of those offerings is not affected by location. Hence, when a product is launched in the US, it will be quickly rolled out worldwide to establish (or maintain) a market share, especially since competition tends to be rife, and speed to market can be crucial. As a result, we in the Caribbean may be able to also access those products/services, which are not only shaping not only our own views and opinions, but also providing us an opportunity to have direct experiences with those products and services.
More sophisticated consumers
Essentially, all of this access – to opinions and to the tech goods themselves – is causing us to become more sophisticated consumers. As much as our own local environments might still have a broad range of challenges that hinder tech innovation and entrepreneurship, frequently, we as consumers are not limited by what is available locally (or even regionally). hence , invariably, we end up being part of a larger continuum of consumers, who are looking for the best, and reasonably priced, products and services regardless of where they have been developed.
Image credits: thinkpublic (flickr)