Tough Times for Technology?

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Those of you who are out there rejoicing WiMAX, Broadband over Powerline and other such incremental technologies, it is time to pay heed to Morris Chang, the 73-year-old maverick who founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. He tells The New York Times, that

we’re all going to see lower growth in the next 10 years,” and “Next year “will not be a very high-growth year, but it will be a positive year; beyond that I’m pessimistic. If Moore’s law has not slowed down in the lab, it will surely slow down in the marketplace, and that in turn will have an effect on foundries.

Interesting point, because unlike others I like to read the fortunes of technology sector in tea-leaves called chips. Silicon is the building block our networked life. If steel was the backbone of industrial age, silicon has been the fuel of our modern post-industrial lives. A slowing chip sector roughly translates into a slower growth for the entire technology food chain. It is also indicative of the fact, that the silicon power has outpaced the imagination. We as consumers of technology have figured out ways to consume the “intelligence” silicon brings to us. We still are only indulging in incremental improvements.

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Chang may be correct about the next 10 years of Silicon and probably also broadband growth. However, what about Web Services? I think I read recently ( that within the U.S. only 1.5% of the U.S. GDP is based on ecommerce. Has the 73-year-old Chang overlooked the creative possibilities that may emerge from Web Services related Ecommerce? Do we perhaps not have a long period of growth ahead of us in this arena? The Internet after all is just a child still … so sure, be pessimistic on Silicon for the next decade (until nano arrives perhaps), but how about some modest optimism for the next decade of the Internet and its *socio-economic* impact? Perhaps the creative side has been lacking because most geeks think its cool to hack software but there are very few geeks who understand humanity quite well and thus know how to seduce an audience of “mere mortals” (I.e., witness Steve Jobs and the iPod)! Those who know how to seduce will be winners in the decades ahead. So Mr. Chang, stop your whining and start doing something creative and seductive with all of that silicon and broadband!!!

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