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Hardware manufacturers have a different perception of the major markets, which depends on the individual products, the competitive situation and particular goals. Generally the world is split into Americas, oftentimes divided into the north and the south continents; EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and APAC (Asia Pacific). Clearly, North America is the most significant market; not only because of its purchasing power and economic wealth, but also because the United States represent the largest single economy with the highest gross national income. South American countries are oftentimes covered by offices in North America.
From an economic standpoint, the European Union is marginally stronger than the United States (based on the 2006 GNI) and slightly behind NAFTA. But at the same time, the United States is a homogenous market that isn't culturally and economically fragmented like the European Union and thus is easier for retailers to manager than in Europe (that is, if they can gain access to the world's largest market). Although the euro transformed central Europe into the largest free trade zone, not all EU countries have adopted the euro as their currency, including Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Baltic States and the recent EU members in Eastern Europe. Also, each European country has to be managed separately, as local habits, cultural differences and highly diverse customer mentalities require vendors to dedicate resources to every European country. For this reason, the EU often still cannot be considered one market, and requires more dedication to penetrate.
Being successful in one market doesn't automatically mean that success in another market is guaranteed. Take Samsung as an interesting example. The mega company sells virtually anything and caters to all important markets, but you don't find its notebooks in North America despite their popularity in many European markets. Sometimes the brands can be entirely different; a graphics vendor like Gainward may be well positioned in Europe, but isn't even listed in PriceGrabber.com, which offers price comparisons in the United States. If you think of the graphics company Elsa, you'll realize that such situations already existed years ago - and it will probably be like that in the future.
Many Chinese and Taiwanese companies consider their local markets as a test ground in which to put new products to the test before they launch something worldwide. Taiwan is especially interesting, as its ranked 22nd based on the 2006 GNI, while China is fourth. Hence, a regional product launch in Taiwan does not involve the risk and efforts of a product launch in a major market. However, the decision on where to launch a product first cannot be generalized and depends on various factors, which can be evident or less obvious. For these reasons it can happen that a certain product may be available in the United States, but not in Europe - or vice versa.
And I don't want to forget Japan, which is the world's second largest economy, followed by Germany and China. Japan can be called the Mecca for geeks, as this country has the highest adoption rate of new technologies.
Billion U.S. dollars