The trip to India got me thinking about “global products” that work the same wherever they are. It’s surprisingly difficult to find tech products that fit this description. Cell phones will almost always work internationally but roaming charges make it impractical. Having an unlocked phone helps but you still need to get a SIM card which is a hassle in many countries.

Even something as standard as a laptop isn’t as easy to use as it should be. Wifi connectivity varies depending where you are with most cities being great fickle elsewhere. Dealing with voltage conversion and plug adapters is something that always comes up. I’ve learned to travel with an adapter kit that includes enough combinations to be able to charge my laptop wherever I go.

The one product that actually worked as expected was the GPS running watch my wife got me for our anniversary. No matter where I was it was able to lock on to a satellite within a few minutes and accurately track my run. The only issue was charging which I was able to do via a USB cable connected to my laptop. Even that shows a weakness since if I didn’t have a laptop I wouldn’t have been able to charge the watch.

The funny thing is, each of these products was designed to work globally - it’s just that the infrastructure differences prevent that from being a reality. Whether it’s having a different set of of plugs or a particular way of getting a SIM card it’s not the product that’s the problem. As powerful as our products are they’re still operating within an infrastructure. And since products evolve faster than infrastructure we’ll continue to see this inconsistent product behavior around the world. Maybe by the time we colonize space we’ll have a consistent global infrastructure.

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