PC History

By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-06-03 Print this article Print

But lets look into the future of wireless. Its not that different from the future of PCs. We saw New York and Boston watch, skeptically, as California created Silicon Valley—and yet, within a decade, all of the technical experts in microcomputer design were West Coast folks. And then they started building the silicon in the Far East, and suddenly, people with Japanese and Indian and Chinese names started appearing on the boards of big Silicon Valley firms. I think the reason isnt just as simple as "new guys are always prepared to treat the customers better." Obviously, I think they are treating the customers better, because they have to, no question. If you want to wean a customer off an established market leader, you have to compete in the realm of enthusiasm.
But theres more to it than that. The fact is that if you have a production plant, you cant leave the factory workers to run it. You need highly qualified engineers, and they teach the people around them how to do things. Quickly, their apprentices become competent; the best of them are eager, hungry, energetic and dedicated, and become brilliant.
When the time comes to replace your original factory manager, who are you going to pick? Some American or European PhD with a huge benefits package and expectations, who doesnt speak Chinese? Or the undervalued genius who actually knows how the factory works, knows the staff and has been personally responsible for at least half of the brilliant ideas his boss has been claiming credit for during the previous five years? Well, sometimes youll hire the expensive figurehead, and sometimes the local kid will get the job; and after that, its up to the laws of evolution. My pick: The PC designers of the year 2025 all will be people who are currently studying hard in Chinese universities. So, if Bill doesnt have to move to Taiwan, theres probably a simple reason why. Itll be because Taiwan has started outsourcing its production to mainland China, the same way California exported it to Taiwan. And for another five years, I bet all of the senior managers sent into rural mainland China from Taipei headquarter offices will be Taiwanese. But after that, if you and I want to design wireless gear, our future is in a tower block in Beijing. Well, thats Bills future, no doubt. Hes an engineer, and theyll want to employ him even if he doesnt speak Mandarin. Me: Id better start studying ... Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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