By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 0 Comments
Perhaps for the first time ever, Canadians will have first and exclusive access to a hot new piece of technology. On Dec. 7, the Nintendo Wii Mini will be on sale in Canada, and only in Canada.
Just what is going on here?
Wired breaks it down to two possible scenarios:
1) In the U.S., the original Wii is already on sale for as little as $130 with bundled games, and it still sells briskly. A $99 Wii Mini, which lacks Internet connectivity, presents no particular bargain to American consumers. But in Canada, you’ll have trouble finding an original Wii for less than $150, so the Mini is a good deal.
2) In the U.S., 25% of Netflix subscribers use their Wiis to stream video onto their TVs. There are tons of dedicated gadgets that’ll sling the Internet over to your TV screen, but most of them start at $100. Throwing this capability onto a console is a major value-add for Americans. Not so much for Canadians, because Netflix isn’t nearly as popular here. That’s because the Netflix library is much smaller in Canada and because our ISPs tax us with crazy fees when we burst through our miserly bandwidth caps, resulting in a true cost for HD Netflix that’s well over the $7.99 monthly subscription fee.
So: maybe we’re a good first market for a cheap-o Wii because we inexplicably pay higher prices than Americans for the same products with our more valuable dollars. Or, maybe we’re a good market because of our lousy Internet service. Either way, there’s nothing here to be proud of.
I’ll throw a third possibility into the mix, which is just as depressing:
Consumer electronics are settling down from a cycle of rapid innovation to one of global market exploitation. Tablets, smart phones and motion detecting game consoles will increasingly be offered in stripped down, bare-bones forms to 2nd world markets–places where people can’t afford the slickest new iPad, and where they lack the telecom infrastructure and content licensing to make full use of such gadgets if they did.
Maybe Nintendo is offering the Wii Mini to Canada first because we present a low-risk test-market for such releases. Instead of being, as we’ve dreamed, the testing ground for the world’s hottest new innovations, maybe Canadians will become the industry’s downmarket guinea pigs.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Leah McLaren - Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 1 Comment
Brits are using credit like never before. Whatever happened to frugality?
Gayle MacKay knows what it’s like to live beyond her means. The 32-year-old public relations professional has spent most of the last decade scraping by on a salary of under $30,000 a year while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world: London, England. Like millions of other Britons, MacKay has lived either at home with her parents or in shared accommodation, and despite steady employment, found herself barely able to make ends meet. She’s recently relocated to Barcelona, where, she jokes, “it’s the done thing to be impoverished,” but in London the pressure to spend money she didn’t have was relentless. “Every month by the time payday rolled around I would literally be right down to my last penny—and when I say last penny I mean I was up to my big overdraft limit. It was scary.”
MacKay is part of a new generation of Britons who, despite the high cost of living and low wages, have eschewed frugality—once a time-honoured tradition in a nation that finally ended food rationing in 1954.
By Jason Kirby - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 11:45 AM - 5 Comments
A weekly scorecard on the state of the economy in North America and beyond
When a report this week from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed the United Kingdom was the only one of the Group of Seven economies to shrink during the third quarter, Fleet Street wailed at the national embarrassment of being dead last. But they could have taken some comfort from the asterisks in the report next to Canada’s name. The data from Canada for September won’t be released until this coming Monday, Nov. 30, and we might still beat the British to the bottom.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Two months ago, when the Bank of Canada forecast the economy would grow two per cent during the July to September period, that target seemed wholly within reach. Canada’s resilience during the recession was expected to hold us in good stead come better days. But then the strengthening loonie and worsening employment got in the way. Growth flatlined in July, then dipped in August. Last week the Bank of Canada slashed its forecast, while still holding on to the prospect for “softer growth.” Continue…
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 4:40 PM - 17 Comments
The young men, called herbivores, don’t want sex
Herbivore: a Japanese man who saves money, shuns sex, has a penchant for nice clothing, and prefers a quieter, less competitive lifestyle. This new class of young men is taking hold in Japan. They are soushoku dansi—translated to “grass-eating boys” or, more commonly, “herbivores.” The term was coined in 2006 by pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawato to describe men who challenged traditional ideas about Japanese masculinity. “In Japan, sex is translated as ‘relationship in flesh,’ ” she explains. “So I named those boys ‘herbivorous boys’ since they are not interested in flesh.”
But sex isn’t all that herbivores reject. Just as they disdain old-fashioned alpha males, they scoff at the status-conscious consumerism of their parents’ generation. Grass-eating boys aren’t big spenders and they don’t take flashy vacations. They are close to their mothers, prefer platonic relationships with female friends, are attentive to their appearance and have fewer career ambitions. A subsidiary of Dentsu, Japan’s largest advertising agency, estimates that 60 per cent of men in their 20s consider themselves grass-eaters. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 10:03 PM - 0 Comments
Rob Walker writes the fun Consumed column in the NYTImes magazine. He also has…
Rob Walker writes the fun Consumed column in the NYTImes magazine. He also has a new book out called Buying In: The Secret dialogue between what we buy and who we are which is getting some good press. I haven’t found the time to read it yet, and the Gawker post on the book has Walker drawing “the sad—but unavoidable—conclusion that we are all a bunch of sheep blindly obeying a world of marketing messages.”
Apart from the fact that Joe Heath and I get a shoutout in the comments (I’ve made it into Gawker, I can retire now), I don’t really trust that take on Walker’s book. Anyone out there read it and want to give us a review?