The 1958 novel The Ugly American was a fictionalized study of American jingoism in action. Its Americans didn’t embrace other cultures or try to understand them and then offer better solutions. Rather, they took a preconceived solution, put the culture ‘in need’ in a bear hug and tried to bend that culture around the existing solution.
Fast forward to now. The same dynamic is at work as American tech companies try to expand into international markets. Historically, internet-driven technology has radiated outward from Silicon Valley. Some of this is due to the difficult reality of scaling an internationalized application or service. But much of it is driven by projection bias and its partner in crime – false consensus bias. To put it another way – if people like it in Silicon Valley, they’ll like it everywhere.
But, that dynamic is no longer true (if indeed it ever was.) The next 1 billion new internet users will be located all over the world in cultures and economies with quite different and diffused needs compared to North American and European early adopters.
Silicon Valley is now looking to emerging regions like...