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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Innovation : History & Geography

Stanford ‘s C. Pascal Zackary writes in NY Times when it comes to technology innovation, the silicon valley is the place to be in. Pointing to success stories like Google, iPod etc , he highlights how the US is leading the wave of global innovation. I have always endorsed the Silicon Valley edge. The VC Ecosystem and the US – known for its first adapter status and scale fanned this cycle of innovation & consumption. Many of the players in the Asia Pacific/BRIC markets are focusing on other type of opportunities and their innovation focus are slightly different. Innovations that meet mass market needs and are cross cultural in nature begin to be found useful for western markets as well. But I do believe that the traditional advantage may not hold for long – significant changes are happening in the emerging economies –but by no means do I suggest that the valley would lose its leadership status. I would like to point out to a few such relevant themes here:
Read my earlier note here wherein amongst other things I noted that more than 95%( again my estimates based on feel) of the web2.0 setups have primarily come from within the US. Kudos to the technology leadership that the US is showing here - Forget Asia or Europe - initiative, speed and zest for trying out in the tech sector still remain a US vestige - Good for America and by extension good for the world. As I see it, Its time for action in places like India right now. Some like CK.Prahalad expect China & India to dramatically change things in the years ahead.

BRIC nations boast not only large talent pools but also a combined market of 3 billion consumers. BT’s externally sourced inventions contributed to nearly ₤500 million in potential new product and service revenues since 2002.The number of qualified engineers in the US is growing by 2% a year, compared with 6% a year in both India and China. Jeffrey Immelt believes that developing new offerings for BRIC markets like India can’t happen through “defeaturization” – a western product stripped down to meet an Indian price - but only through a truly Indian product designed from the ground up to carry an Indian price.

Strong indications that are available suggest that a new high-tech world order is emerging. Some view that the center-of-gravity of supply and demand for high-tech products and services is shifting on a global scale — moving ever further away from its historical single-country locus within US borders. IT-hungry Chinese, Indian corporations and cities outspend American firms in enterprise IT. India and China will collectively invest more than $1.1 trillion in the coming decade in new infrastructure to develop whole new cities — China's urbanization rate is poised to double from 31% today to 60% in 2020 — and in the process enabling entirely new industries. Already, America's share of total revenues of 35 of the largest enterprise IT vendors is shrinking while we see a corresponding increase with that of Asia Pacific countries. The share of the US computer hardware market is falling while it is clear now that when it comes to telecom equipment, Asia Pacific is now the largest market for communications equipment.

Am writing a detailed note separately on the evolving global innovation ecosystem –watch out for it sometime next week. For now, time to go – its already late to catch the Monday’s early morning flight.

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