While Europe excelled in old style industries such as automobiles (which are now facing lots of problems), it seems to be a much smaller player in IT, Internet and – data-communications. So is that perception based on reality or just what we read and see every day? Let’s first look at what I experience daily – and I might not be so untypical, I would think.
Lenovo laptop used. OK, this is a shared China-US domain. Now Lenovo is a China-based company, manufacturing is done in China but I think still designed in the US. Lots of components are from US companies like Intel CPU, NVIDIA video processor and the Windows operating system. The software I am using is mainly a US domain too: Mozilla Firefox, Seamonkey e-mail client, Microsoft Office, online calendar, web collaboration, VoIP (Skype is US owned now), web presentation, photo sharing, online CRM; Ok I think you’ve got the picture (for the record: my security software is from Europe).
Now let’s look at my mobile connectivity: Apple iPhone, Samsung D600. Sorry, Opera guys, but you do not show up, although you need to be mentioned here as the number one mobile browser vendor. Noteworthy is one of the biggest success stories here though: ARM, the Intel of mobile phones and of course Nokia – who will face quite some challenges from Apple mainly.
Things look a little bit different, though, behind the scenes. While my Swisscom last-mile provider is definitely a Cisco shop, they work with Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent I think for the mobile infrastructure. OK, here we are still present but Chinese guys are on our heels (Huawei and ZTE).
So overall, a mostly lost game, although things look a bit more friendly in business software with many local “no-name” players and SAP as a powerhouse even now. Of course Oracle, HP and IBM are rolling up the little players here, too, and will do so more in 2009.
Looking at the above, while we do not have the same problems with basic infrastructure such as airports, railway systems or mobile and fixed line telecom systems, I think we also will need a reboot for the IT, Internet and datacom industries.
I therefore call for a bail out plan for the IT industries in Europe. Use the money to catch up again and set ambitious goals. Along the same lines are recent calls for supporting the space programs in Germany with a plan to fly to the moon. At first I had a good laugh, asking myself “when was it again that they first landed on the moon? Why would hundred of millions spent to do something that is the same as others did nearly 40 years ago be any good for general competitiveness? But the good thing is that for once they are trying to come up with a general plan for high-tech too (and not only for the bank and automobile vendors)- Even if the first ideas seem a joke maybe it could lead in the right direction once they start thinking some more?
One thing I can say for sure: If the US. thinks they can reboot from their total current mess, then it should be possible to have a reboot of the IT industry in Europe and come back as well.