Wednesday, 28 March 2007

America dethroned from top tech rank

When it comes to information technology, America is king... right? Everyone from Cisco to Apple to Google to IBM to Microsoft to GE is based in the United States and got their start in the country with the famed Silicon Valley. Hardware, software, ideas — many designed by some of the world's most innovative people — all gravitate towards the world's superpower. For all its political and societal faults, the US is an innovative haven, the dream land for technological entrepreneurs. Yes, at the end of the 20th century Japan was making advances in the robots and other technological industries. But the United States has largely still held the real gold: the products and ideas that have transformed our lives. On the back of an iPod, in fine print: "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." Western European and East Asian nations still lag behind America's technological and innovative supremacy.

Actually, not anymore. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report (summary), the US has dropped from first place in the Networked Readiness Index (ranks) in 2005-2006, to seventh place in the most recent 2006-2007 report. In 2004-2005, the US was at fifth place. The UK's average rank is 10 or so, nine this year; Germany's at 16; China is down nine places to a poor 59. India is also down to 44th place, that's four positions worse than in the previous index. Korea, home to LG and the most integrated broadband Internet infrastructure and usage, ranked 19th. Denmark took first place, and its fellow Nordic countries also did well: Sweden, Finland, Norway, placed second, fourth, and 10th, respectively. All four of the Nordics were up from last year.

BBC News:

The US has lost its position as the world's primary engine of technology innovation, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

The US is now ranked seventh in the body's league table measuring the impact of technology on the development of nations.

A deterioration of the political and regulatory environment in the US prompted the fall, the report said.
Countries were judged on technological advancements in general business, the infrastructure available and the extent to which government policy creates a framework necessary for economic development and increased competitiveness.

The Networked Readiness Index, the sixth of its kind published by the World Economic Forum with Insead, the Paris-based business school, scrutinised progress in 122 economies worldwide.

Despite losing its top position, the US still maintained a strong focus on innovation, driven by one of the world's best tertiary education systems and its high degree of co-operation with industry, the report said.

The country's efficient market environment, conducive to the availability of venture capital, and the sophistication of financial markets, was also given recognition.

So, the US still has good colleges and a very stable tech business foundation. The question is: how will that change with EU countries showing signs of diversifying industry and Asian nations moving forward, despite their poor rankings in this report. In addition, what about the seemingly inevitable (at this point) effects of globalization on tech services?

With 3G technology and, a while back, even things as simple as SIM cards, Europe and East Asia were beating the US in mobile phone technology. America is still trying to catch up. The latest computing craze or game console may first hit in the US, but many other technologies are more evolved in other developed countries.

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