In a recent poll of international travellers, commissioned by Discover America Partnership, a coalition of US tourist organisations, 70 per cent of respondents said they feared US officials more than terrorists or criminals. Another 66 per cent worried they would be detained for some minor blunder, such as wrongly filling out an official form or being mistaken for a terrorist, while 55 per cent say officials are “rude.”
Such fears are fuelled by the horror stories. Earlier this year a friend of mine was detained for hours and strip-searched at LAX for a minor visa infraction. He was finally allowed to enter the US, on the condition he departed the next day. “I won’t be coming back,” he said.
In a January Listener article New Zealand journalist Marilyn Head described how she missed a flight after being treated like a criminal by US airport guards.
“I left the US vowing never to return,” she wrote. “I’m not alone.”
She’s right. Head’s experience echoes that of many disgruntled tourists who have bitter memories of treatment meted out by US immigration officials.
This negative perception has helped fuel a 7.6 per cent drop in travel from Britain, a 23.3 per cent fall from Japan, 19.2 from France and 20.7 per cent from Germany – the top US tourist origin markets – between 2000 and 2005.
The iPhone has no hope of gaining a true foothold in the cellphone marketplace, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The company head told an interviewer at the USA Today that, as with computers, future control of the mobile handset business would primarily depend on software influence rather than hardware. Apple’s insistence on attaching its code to a premium device could prevent it from getting any more than a small percentage of the world’s cellphone user base, Ballmer predicted.
“Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? I want to have products that appeal to everybody,” he said. “We’ll get a chance to go through this [Apple versus Microsoft debate] again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.”
So he says that software is important for phones, and Apple is hopeless with that. Then he says the phones will go through the same process as music players – I guess somebody forgot to tell him about the iPod.
And last he’d rather be a stagnant giant than the fastest growing computer and software company.
Ballmer should stick to things he’s good at. Like throwing chairs.