Google toolbar and Amazon shopping.

I live and work in Germany, my notebook has an operating system in English.  My browser is set up with English as the default language.  So why when I type do I get sent to  If I want to go to Google de then I’ll type that, surely?

Secondly, I downloaded the google toolbar the other day, and again it sent me the German version.  As far as  I can see I will need to deinstall it if I want to have it in English.  This is plain dumb, and it  points to a basic design fault at Google. It seems they have combined  two distinct data items – language and country.  

Hamish speaks of the challenges of  PC languages  in French speaking Switzerland, so I’m not the only one who has a problem.

Google please stop trying to turn me into a German. 

I’ve mentioned the multicountry design issue that I have with Amazon here.

I would like to set up an affiliate with Amazon, and depending where you are, Amazon would invoice in the right currency, handle the taxes, and ship from the cheapest location. With the current set up this seems impossible to do this.

Amazon would have no way of knowing that the Thomas Otter in .de is the same as the one as on

Amazon’s architecture is not global, the country versions seem to be copies of the us one, with very little integration. This must be costly to run and maintain. We can learn a lot from Amazon online retail and SOA, but it looks as if they could learn from us boring boring ERP guys in Walldorf about global architectures

If you architect a solution for one market and one language, it will come back and bite when you deploy it globally.  This is the same whether you are building an ERP solution, deploying a wiki, searching the the web or sprinkling SaaS dust.



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8 thoughts on “Google toolbar and Amazon shopping.”

  1. This is a good point and, as with most things, SAP handles the language issue well (and elegantly).

    Another example is the airlines and travel industry. There are a number of companies whose websites insist on serving you their national pages in the local language if that is the starting point of your journey. I worked in Alsace for 3 years and (depending on price/convenience) used to regularly fly to the UK and back from nearby airports in Germany, Luxembourg, or Switzerland (and of course France). All of these (besides for Switzerland) are in the Euro Zone, and yet I was surprised at the number of airlines that disallow one to start one’s journey from a country for which you do not have a credit card.

    This leads me on to my suspicion that some of the “design flaws” are driven by the profit motive.

  2. Thomas – you can force Google to read in English by forcing the language. It reads the IP address and assumes that’s the language you want. For most people that’s true – except us ex-pats. Hasta luego baby!

    What are you moaning about on the language front for airlines? I find the best deals on local aggregators not the big boys. Good way to learn the language as well IMO.

  3. Den,
    My German is fine, I just like to work in English.
    A Menu bar in German isnt going to improve my grammar anyway…

    The google search is okay, but the toolbar is only in German. I selected Germany as my place of residence and it downloaded the German language version without asking. I now have to desinstall it and install the english version. This is poor design..

  4. Thanks Thomas for the kind words, and I agree totally about the poor design with the Google toolbar.

    Regarding Amazon, if they don’t have a holistic view of their customers then they probably don’t have a holistic view of their suppliers either. This is neglecting the basics. At the same time they put a lot of energy into their “recommendations” features. I don’t see a lot to show for it, except for the positive reviews. I bought a Harry Potter book from them and now they recommend every single edition of every single HP book. In fact I bought two HP5 hard cover editions from them and since then they recommended every other edition (soft-cover, adult-cover, etc.) of the same book. Also some of the saner recommendations are just lame.

    Dennis, I don’t see why I can’t book a return flight from Frankfurt to London in English, from a “French” IP address (and pay with a French credit card even). Sometimes the aggregators have the best fares. At others there are specials available where you have to book direct with the airline. It’s about customer choice (or the llack thereof).

  5. Not every web company does it poorly. Paypal actually does a decent job with a global infrastucture. The pain, I suspect, is that PayPal follows regulatory law (or it’s own self-imposed sets of laws). When I was living in Germany, I could not add my German bank account to to my US PayPal account. US Paypal doesn’t allow a foreign account. So, I setup a German PayPal account, and noticed I could add a US bank account. ‘Cool’, I thought! However, when I entered my US account number, PayPal was aware that my US bank account was already linked to another PayPal account and disallowed it. PayPal earns points for having transparency across its local operations; loses points for not letting me do what I wanna do! I had to xfer money from my US PayPal account to my German PayPal account – at a considerable exchange penalty!

  6. Tim,
    Indeed you are right.
    The Google and Amazon issues I mentioned are design rather than compliance issues.

    Building user friendly and compliant applications is even more challenging. Paypal has to comply with certain banking regulations.
    (especially with regards to exchange controls and money laundering laws)

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