Don't Forget to Buy Bread and Apps
In most parts of the world, if you want a new app for your mobile you just click onto your app store online site, pay and download it. But for Cubans, buying an app or a mobile game mean putting their shoes on, go out to to the street and enter a physical store, like if they were going shopping for bread.
In Havana, apps are sold in mobile-phone repair shops, where technicians transfer apps to customers’ smartphones via USB cables attached to the shop’s computers, reports The Economist.
Physical app stores are an ingenious Cuban response to digital deprivation. The island has some 300 public Wi-Fi hotspots, up from none two years ago. But connections are slow and, especially by Cuban standards, expensive; they normally cost $1.50 an hour. Adhering to the American embargo, app publishers like Apple and Google block downloads in Cuba. Music lovers can browse the iTunes store, but cannot buy songs or apps; Cubans can get the free apps on Google Play, but not the ones that cost money.
In December, the Cuban government reached a deal with Google to put servers in Cuba. That should speed up connections to Google’s services, which account for roughly half of Cuba’s internet traffic. There is talk of introducing mobile data. That would make downloading apps easier, though it would not solve the problem of the embargo or the absence of local credit cards. But neither Cuba’s government nor the Trump administration is in a hurry to free Cubans’ access to data.
As reported in The Economist.