Returned from Lahore this morning. Among other things I did there was a visit to Hafeez Center, a group of buildings containing countless small and large shops. The main product? Computer hardware.
They had a bunch of stuff from cell phones to piles of used PCs and workstations. A great place for a geek in Pakistan though nothing compared to Tokyo’s Akihabara or Singapore’s towers full of gadgets and geek toys. PC displays were abundant and so were used branded desktop systems, but I couldn’t find a single shop that had a decent collection of mice.
Maybe things are different further down in places like Karachi, but that’s one of the things that really bugs me about virtually any kind of shopping in Pakistan. Everyone carries the same stuff. I miss places like T-Zone and Sofmap in Tokyo where you could find dozens of models of any piece of hardware or the specialized shops that sold just Unix machines. Or the stores that carried a wide variety of a certain type of food, for example. In Pakistan (or at least in Islamabad), you can go to the biggest grocery store and still get pretty much the same type of goods you’ll get at a smaller one, just in a better shape or in higher quantity.
The main reason for this is probably the hesitant nature of sellers (as well as buyers). Nobody likes to take risks. Everyone tries to do the same thing the guy next door is doing without realizing that in the end, everyone will suffer from the increased competition. The buyers initially get a better price, but also suffer from lack of choice and an eventual decline in the quality of service.
Maybe some hope is to be found in the better areas of Islamabad and Karachi, but they have a long way to go.