The T-List: Special German Edition!

By  |  Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 5:48 am

My trip to Berlin for the IFA electronics show is winding down, but I still have stuff to talk about. And it’s a slow news day. So here’s a T-List about my visit–be thankful it’s not in German!

IFA Wrap-Up
I’d somehow managed to spend seventeen years as a tech journalist without ever attending a European tradeshow, even though some of the biggest in the business are held here, such as CeBIT and Mobile World Congress. So I’m glad to have had the chance to attend IFA as a speaker (for which I was paid a fee). And I’m leaving feeling kind of upbeat about the U.S. technology industry. Yes, we’re behind in key areas such as wireless and broadband. But as sprawling and jammed with products as IFA was, it felt like a recap of January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the U.S. is clearly ahead of Europe when it comes to HDTV and digital entertainment. It’ll be interesting to see just how long we maintain that lead, though.

GMail by Any Other Name
I think I knew that Google doesn’t have the trademark to the name Gmail here in Germany, and is therefore forced to call the service Google Mail. Even so, just about every time I tried to log into my account here, I forgot and went to, where I got this kinda prickly-sounding message: “We can’t provide service under the Gmail name in Germany; we’re called Google Mail here instead…Oh, and we’d like to link [] but we’re not allowed to do that either. Bummer.” According to Ars Technica, a recent EU court victory for Daniel Giersch, who operates a service called G-Mail, means that GMail is forced to go by Google Mail across the continent. Double bummer.
Read more at: Ars Technica

Abroad With the iPhone
I brought my iPhone 3G to Berlin, and it worked just fine–as good or better as in the U.S., which made sense since GSM networks are so robust here. I still used it sparingly, though, since international roaming costs are not only extremely high but pretty mysterious–I couldn’t tell for sure how much it cost me each time I checked my e-mail, and i didn’t even dare do anything bandwidth-intensive like listen to streaming radio. Ironically enough, AT&T introduced cheaper international data plans partway through my trip. At $120 and $200 a month (for 100MB and 200MB respectively) they’re still way, way more pricey than the $30 we statesiders pay for unlimited data at home, though.
Read more at: CNet

Silicon Valley, German Style
One of the highlights of my Berlin visit was a field trip we took to Adlershof, an area in Berlin that’s known as Germany’s answer to Silicon Valley. It’s in what was formerly East Germany, and is chock-full of scientists and engineers, many of them formerly East Germans, who are founding and running successful high-tech startups. One big difference: Adlershof is operated by the German government as an initiative to encourage development of the technology industry. Another difference: Amazingly few of Adlershof’s startups fail. The Adlershof representative we visited with says that’s both good and bad: Failures are rare in part because German businesspeople tend to be wary about risk-taking in general, since failure is embarrassing. In the U.S., gambles that could lead to failure are part of life–and so Silicon Valley has both more companies that never go anywhere and more that are massive successes.
Read more at: Wikipedia

Meeting of the Blogging Minds
Another highlight–and the most fun of the three panels I participated in–was one that brought together bloggers from the U.S. and Germany. Participants besides moi included metablogger Robert Scoble, CBS News’s Larry Magid, BusinessWeek’s Steve Wildstrom, and two leading German bloggers: Thomas Knuwer and Robert Basic. Knuwer and Basic said that acceptance of blogging and the Internet in general in Germany lags behind the U.S.–again, in part because German folks stress out over the prospect of failing in public, which you inevitably do from time to time when you blog without an editor. Knuwer and Basic, however, were clearly as smart and passionate as any American blogger. And I’m going to check out what they’re up to–even if I have to run their stuff through Google Translate to make sense of them.
Read more (in German!) at: Indiskretion, Basic Thinking

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