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Thursday, 3 December 2009

S&M and Apple's smartphone future

In the late 1970s Herman Kahn, the polymath who is widely believed to have been the model for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr No, wrote an influential book called, The Emerging Japanese Superstate. Kahn was a master in the art of intellectual S&M, he both titillated and aroused American fears and dreams of Asian submission and domination. The script was simple and effective, Japan was on the way up and by implication, America was on the way down. In the early 1980s, with the dollar in a slump, Kahn’s interpretation was widely believed by a nation in self hate mode.

One of the few areas that America was doing well was in tech but even that was under threat. Japanese giants like Toshiba and NEC were beginning to give the US chip industry a good lashing. Then, when Japan threw its weight behind a new operating system called MSX, it looked like sayonara Silicon Valley, the PC industry would now fall. It never happened, the PC industry is still dominated by American names.

The reason that all this is now interesting is that the same script is being reprised today. Clients phone me up to say they have seen the future and the future is Chinese made smartphones selling for less than a hundred dollars. Apple is toast, and so is Samsung, Nokia and LG. Chinese white box handset makers, armed with Mediatek chips are on the march. Continued

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