This is unusual. When I started as a journalist in the late eighties it went pretty much without saying that some territories would be ahead of my own home in the UK for technological take-up. America and Japan would typically be three years ahead of us while Germany would be one or two.

That seems to be changing a little. Of course, mass communication means change is faster overall so the gap was always going to narrow. Then there are individual product launches in which companies decide we're going to get stuff later - we still don't have Amazon's Kindle or Microsoft's Zune, for example.

But what we do have is digital television. We have more of it per head than anyone else and we're starting to use technology better (for example in Ireland they use more text messages than anywhere else).

Initially this probably isn't all that significant. There's every chance that the picture is distorted by the amount of subsidised media we have over here - a State TV service, for example, and mobile phones - which can carry TV - for free with a contract.

As the world economies continue to splutter, though, it will be interesting to watch how the balance pans out eventually. My guess is that it's going to be commercial decisions, like the devices we haven't had just because companies don't think they'll sell here yet, that will shape the markets rather than technologies for the foreseeable future.