Last Thursday, after returning from an early morning flight from Moscow, I spoke at the Newseum in Washington DC at The Washington Ideas Forum, sponsored by The Atlantic, Thomson Reuters and The Aspen Institute. This video of my presentation is a bookend to my three-part blog series on America’s future dominance – through software — in the global economy. I also dive into two areas of critical product development at MicroStrategy: mobile identity-validation and mobile cyber-security, both of which I’ll talk about in future blog posts.
Part 3: The Destruction of Local Markets
In my previous two posts on the geopolitical implications of the mobile wave, I’ve discussed English language dominance over software and how software is primed to displace manufacturing around the globe. Indeed, the mobile wave’s geopolitical implications are enormous and I will be returning to them often in the coming months. Today, however, I want to complete my three-part geopolitical series by examining the disappearance of local markets that is already happening and bound to accelerate as part of the wave. Let’s revisit the simple example of opening a house or apartment door with software on your mobile device instead of a key. Now expand that thought: If all locks and keys dematerialize to software then one day there’ll be a network that opens a billion doors. You don’t need to get keys from your local locksmith; your keys are on the network. And that network is probably developed by an English-language American software company. When you no longer need a location-based business to make and sell keys, then that is an example of the destruction of local markets. Continue reading
Part 2: Software Replaces Manufacturing
As discussed in my last post, thanks in great part to the simplicity of the English language, the only truly successful software companies up to this point in the history of the world have been American companies, sans SAP which, one can argue, operates like an American company despite being based in Germany. American companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple were at the forefront in the 1980s during the PC revolution and then the dot com boom gave way to more great American companies like Yahoo, Amazon, and Google.
Notwithstanding the success of these firms, we are going to look back at these companies’ influences in the 1980s and 1990s and judge them as miniscule compared to American software influence in the decade to come.
As mentioned in a previous post and to prove my point here, think about how and when you used the Internet in the 90s. You used it in an office, in a cubicle, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. At its inception, the Internet only affected white-collar workers during the workweek. And even in the year 2000, 17 years after it’s beginning, only 360 million people worldwide had access to the Internet. That’s 360 million people out of the 6 billion on the planet, using the Web for 15 hours out of their workweek.
Part 1: English Language Dominance Over Software
When I began my career in the 1980s, the U.S. economy was sending mixed signals. In some ways, it seemed to be roaring back, yet many Americans believed that we had lost our global economic competitiveness. Some even thought the Japanese were going to take over many of our facilities.
There was reason to be concerned. The Japanese invested $20 billion directly into the U.S. economy in 5 years, we had movies like Gung Ho, and in 1989 the Mitsubishi Estate Company of Tokyo bought the Rockefeller Center.
Then there was an inflection point, driven a lot by the PC revolution and by software. Microsoft had been founded in 1975; Apple Computer was founded in ’76, and Oracle was founded in 1977. These were to become three great companies in our time, yet in 1980, they were just embryonic. They all grew to be forces and then became public in the latter part of the decade.
Out of this success, something unintended happened. The Western World began to prevail over the rest of the world mostly because of its dominance in software. The software advantage was, in large part, due to the genetic superiority of the English language for writing software, compared to pictographic based alphabets of kanji and simplified Chinese. Continue reading