Living in Sweden is not the best choice for those who want to be first to get a hold of the latest gadgets.
We have a good health-care system, free university studies and five holiday weeks each year, but what do those benefits matter when you have to wait for the latest phone or music player? Two of the hottest mobile phones right now are the T-Mobile G1 and the BlackBerry Storm from Research In Motion. Neither is available in this part of the world and although I am not sure I would want either, but would at least like to have the option to buy them or not.
(The first generation of the iPhone didn't show up in Sweden either, but that was probably a smart move by Apple -- selling a smartphone without 3G support wouldn't have been such a good idea as the country is among the best for 3G coverage, at least according to its telecom regulator.)
The Nintendo DSi is another gadget that is missing in action for the holiday season, but this time Sweden is at least in good company. I have never understood why Nintendo ignores Europe when it launches new products, but its delays have always given me the impression that the company only grudgingly sells its consoles outside of Japan.
Part of the problem is, of course, that Sweden is a small market, with 9.2 million inhabitants. Manufacturers of gadgets with Qwerty keyboards also have to add the Swedish vowels
But it isn't just the availability of the latest gadgets that's a problem; cost is also an issue.
Many wish lists on both sides of the Atlantic undoubtedly include Blu-ray players, and one of the hottest candidates is the Panasonic DMP-BD35, the new entry-level model from the Japanese home electronics manufacturer.
In the U.S. that player costs about US$230, in Sweden it would set you back another $100. A value added tax at 25 percent doesn't help much either.
Digital cameras and iPods are other examples of gadgets that Swedes have picked up in droves when visiting the U.S. lately, which I guess is good for the U.S. economy.
Yet another area where it sometimes feels like Sweden is a third-world nation is content. iTunes has turned into a great source for movies and TV in the States, but in the Swedish version of the store users will have to make due with podcasts. Comparing the amount of TV in HD here and there, and the number of available Blu-ray discs, is also a losing battle.
All of this might sound like a bit of a rant, and it is. All I can say is that I blame the lack of daylight and sunshine this time of year. Oh, and by the way, the headline is a little misleading -- Christmas stockings are something else we don't have in Sweden.