The prolonged stagnation of the PC market – which for more than two decades has provided almost assured double-digit growth – suggests that Silicon Valley may be approaching a shift that goes beyond the collapse of dot-com stocks.
Increasingly, personal computers have become a replacement rather than a growth market, and Silicon Valley collectively is still waiting for the Next Big Thing.
Silicon Valley needs to look beyond the US to the developing countries. That’s where the Next Big Thing is going to happen. These emerging markets need technology, but at much lower price points. Instead of creating new things, the question to be pondered is: can we put together existing technologies different to solve problems for the “rest of the world”.
This may be hard to accept, but the centre of gravity in technology is going to shift eastwards. Already, China is the #2 PC market, Korea and Japan are the leader on 3G, Philippines do more SMSing than anyone else in the world, India is the outsourcing software development champion, Taiwan has the semiconductor fabs.
It is a different world, if one removes the blinkers. Technology’s game is not over, but has reached a strategic inflection point. (I hope to build on some of these thoughts in a future Tech Talk column.)