Archive | Tech

Spotify Launches In Argentina

Spotify is, without a doubt, my favorite online music service. I have been a premium subscriber ever since it launched in the US two years ago and use it every single day. It’s completely replaced iTunes, which I rarely use anymore.

Spotify Available In ArgentinaIf you’re not familiar with Spotify, it’s an online music streaming service for your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet with over 20 million songs available – all 100% legal. It’s really a lot more than just streaming though as they also have radio stations and numerous apps that allow you to find and follow your favorite musical genres and artists. You can also follow your favorite artists as well as your friend’s musical tastes through social media and sharing on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email.

The big news is that, as of today, Spotify is available in Argentina! This means that you can now sign up and listen in Buenos Aires without having to use a US credit card or proxy server.

Spotify Argentina Plans and PricingWhat’s even more exciting is that the Argentine version of Spotify is less than half the price of the US version. Of course, they both have the same free ad-sponsored version, but Spotify Argentina also has a ARS $18/month unlimited version that is ad-free (not available in the US) and an ARS $36/month premium version which gives you access to their mobile app and offline syncing. The premium version is $9.99/month in the US, so this is a substantial savings. I’m planning on switching over to an Argentine account from my US one as soon as my current plan expires.

You can head over to the Spotify website now and download the app for your desktop or laptop for free and start listening right away. If you sign up for premium, you can download their iPhone or Android app as well.

While I absolutely love the service, I only have two minor complaints. The first is that you can only listen to it on one device at a time, so if I’m in my office listening, I can get kicked off by my 3-year old who wants to hear nursery rhymes on the iPad. The second is that they do not have separate profiles, so by sharing the account with my daughter I get recommendations to listen to both the latest Cold War Kids single and Dora the Explorer. It would be great to have a family plan option.

So, are you planning on signing up? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out the Share My Playlists site too. It’s a great way to discover new music.


Apple iPhone 5s / 5c in Argentina

Yep, it’s that time of the year again… The time when Apple releases the newest version of their iPhone and those of us in Argentina with technolust can only drool over the chance of getting one. (Because you know technology is super expensive here and way outdated. Hell, BlackBerry may actually be gaining marketshare in Argentina!)

Not gonna happen here.

Not gonna happen here.

This time Apple is releasing two new iPhones – the low(er) cost iPhone 5c as well as the high-end iPhone 5s. Both go on sale at 12:01 PDT tonight, though the iPhone 5c has been on pre-sale all week. This has lead to much speculation that the 5s will be in short supply when it is first released.

Let me say, the iPhone 5s is a thing of beauty. I’ve even really fallen in lust with the new gold colored one. Plus, it’s got a fingerprint reader, brand new camera, dual-flash, faster processor, and a whole slew of other features. After skipping the iPhone 5, I think it’s time to upgrade my iPhone 4s. Heck, I need the camera to take better pictures of my kids, right? That seems like the perfect reason.

Normally, I’d be out of luck getting one of these beauties into Argentina, but luckily, I have an unwitting mule to bring my iPhone 5s into Argentina. In a fortuitous bit of timing, my mother comes to Buenos Aires at the beginning of October to see her new grandson. Well, at least that’s why she thought she was coming… In actuality, it’s to bring my new iPhone.

So, yes, I’ll be up at 4:01am Argentina time to see about being one of the first to order the latest model. (And with a 5-week old son, being up at 4am is just a normal occurrence.) The unlocked 16GB version of the 5s is U$S 649, but I think that’s a good business expense, right? I mean I am in tech and do “need” it for work… Plus, I’ll resell my iPhone 4s here.

Are you crazy?

Are you crazy?

Now, if you’re in Argentina and lusting after the iPhone, I just got an email that one of the local deal sites is offering 25% off iPhones! Of course, there are a few gotchas:

  • It’s the iPhone 4s.
  • They only have two in stock.
  • The iPhone 4s is 2 years old (released October 11, 2011) and will not run all the features in IOS 7 (AirDrop, camera filters).
  • It’s $5,899! And YES, that’s with the 25% off. Thought you can get 12 payments…

So, if we take that at the blue rate of ARS $9.10, it’s still a whopping U$S 649 – the same price for 2-year old technology here as the brand new iPhone 5s is in the States.

Can you start to see the problems in this country? Maybe Apple will finally decide to start assembling iPhones in Tierra del Fuego, and then Argentines will be able to get iPhones without a trip to Miami – or having to be a government official.

Now, to see if I can get a nano SIM here or if those are nonexistent too…

UPDATE: So yes, I did wake up at 4:01am to order a gold iPhone 5s. I added it to my shopping cart and saw the “shipping in 1-3 business days” message, which was just right to get it to my mother in time. I then noticed it was the “T-Mobile GSM” unlocked version of the phone and drew a blank on whether or not GSM worked in Argentina. After some quick Googling, I found out that was the correct model and went back to check out. Of course, after paying, I noticed the delivery time had changed to 7-10 business days. That would not be enough time to get it to my mom before she left for Argentina! It also means that it would probably be returned to Apple as no one would be able to sign for delivery either. So, in the end it looks like all my efforts were wasted and there’s going to be no new iPhone for me…

UPDATE 2: I was able to change the delivery address for my gold iPhone 5s, and it’s now supposed to arrive at a friend’s house in Boston on October 10. As I have a November trip back to the US, I’ll be able to pick it up then and bring it back with me. Maybe I’ll have to pick up a second one too as they’re currently selling on MercadoLibre for about $15,000 pesos (U$S 1612 at the blue market rate). Still, seems like a lot of trouble for a phone.


Using Bitcoin to Get the Dolar Blue Rate in Argentina

One of our more frequent topics is on the “dolar blue” rate in Argentina. This is the unofficial rate at which the US dollar trades in Argentina. Yesterday it hit a new record high of U$S 1 = ARS $9.40. That’s an 81% difference to the official rate and a great reason never to use your credit card or ATM in Argentina.

There are a few ways to take advantage of the dolar blue rate that we have discussed before:

  • Bring US dollars and convert at the blue rate.
    Pros: the best rate available
    Cons: theft, counterfeit bills, finding a cueva to exchange, technically illegal
  • Use a money transfer service like Xoom or Azimo and get a rate close to the blue rate.
    Pros: legal, transfer from your bank account overseas, relatively easy
    Cons: not available in all countries, must physically pick up money, paperwork required, rate good but lower than blue rate

A new method has emerged as well using the relatively new digital currency, Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a decentralized currency and payment system that is not under any government control. Check out the video below for a more detailed overview (or check out this Bitcoin course for a much more in-depth explanation):

Ok, so now you know that you know what Bitcoin is, how can you use it in Argentina to get the blue rate?

Argentines are not very fond of holding pesos – especially with inflation estimated at 25% – 30% per year. And with government restrictions on purchasing foreign currency or gold, many Argentines see Bitcoin as an investment opportunity that is outside of the government’s control. Unfortunately, the currency controls also make it impossible for Argentines to purchase Bitcoins online with pesos. This is where the trading process comes in. You purchase Bitcoins and then trade them for physical pesos at the blue rate.

Watch this short documentary film, “Bitcoins in Argentina,” for a great overview of the process:

Ok, so now you’re ready to trade Bitcoins, right? There’s a few steps you’ll need to take:

1. Get some Bitcoins
In order to get Bitcoins, you need to set up an account and purchase them. We’ve found Coinbase to be a great site to do this. This may take several days to set up, so don’t wait for the last minute.

2. Find someone to trade with
There are a few methods for finding a trading partner in Argentina – the Bitcoin Argentina Mailing List, LocalBitcoins, Bitcoin Argentina on Facebook, and Bitcoin Meetup. The mailing list seems to be the most active, but LocalBitcoins is growing rapidly. Once you find a trading partner, agree on the rate, pick a spot to meet and trade away!

So, what are the pros and cons of using Bitcoin?
Pros: relatively easy to use, completely anonymous, high exchange rate, works for people from almost any country, no need to carry cash, no paperwork
Cons: relatively new currency with high level of price fluctuation, must find a trading partner, must meet in person for exchange, false bills

The biggest con in my mind is the high number of price fluctuations and crashes that Bitcoin has experienced, however I think this can be somewhat offset as the seller by buying and selling in the same day. The buyer holding the Bitcoins has a lot more exposure to these price fluctuations. As for finding a trustworthy trading partner, a lot of the resources above will let you see what other trading the person has done before, and be sure and count the money before sending your Bitcoins.

Are you ready to start trading? Let us know in the comments if you do and what your experiences have been.

– Thanks to this Reddit post for more info on Bitcoin in Argentina.


Hola! I’ve Got Your Pandora, Netflix and Hulu From Anywhere

I’ve written a lot about getting around those crazy restrictions that do not allow us to watch US content in Argentina and I’m always looking for the best products – paid or free – to do the job. For example, if you want to access US content on an iPad or iPhone, then Unotelly is the quickest and easiest way to do that.

Unblock Netflix, Hulu, Panfora and MoreHowever, if you only want to watch content from your web browser, PC or Android device, we have another option for you – Hola. Hola is a peer-to-peer network who’s ultimate goal is to speed up the Internet. One of their available products is the Hola Unblocker for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox as well as the full Hola client for Windows and Android.

Simply install the Hola browser extension and you’ll have immediate access to BBC Player, CBS, Fox, Hulu, ITV, Netflix and Pandora. If you install the PC or Android version, you’ll have access to even more sites.

It’s trivial to install, won’t slow down your computer and completely free. You don’t even have to configure it. Just go to those sites and they work as if you were in the good ole US of A.

Gotta love technology…