You may have noticed that the US government has announced it will balance its budget in a few years? time. One reason many US commentators believe the Clinton administration will be able to do this, after so many years of imbalance, is because of the boom in the US economy.
In the middle of all this boom talk, nobody has bothered to say why the US economy is doing well. But I have seen plenty of research in recent weeks that shows the IT industry is responsible for much of the growth. It is revealing and impressive stuff.
It would be fair to speculate that microprocessors have changed the way business works ? they are after all included in all kinds of useful products from cars and to microwaves to CD players ? but the main impact has been in the computing and telecommunications industries.
One research organisation that really matters, the US Department of Commerce, estimates that the car industry accounts for about 10 per cent of US gross domestic product (GDP). This year?s figures also estimate that the direct and embedded contribution of IT is between 40 and 50 per cent of GDP. So much of the credit for the economic boom in the US and Europe must go to IT.
I was interested to see another piece of research in the US about the relationship between networking vendors and their dealers. It seems there is good news for networking Vars: as networking products have become more and more popular over the past year, vendors have increased the discounts they offer by 12 per cent in the US. If resellers are prepared to spend $250,000 annually on a vendor?s kit, the average discount is 28 per cent, rising to 39 per cent for those spending more than $5 million.
Marvellous. But the networking companies are not stupid ? the small print in the report shows the surveyed hardware vendors have increased the cost of starting to do business with them. In a year it has risen from an average of $750,000 to $1.75 million. As the balance of power shifts from Var to vendor, the goal posts move. A wise networking man once said: beware of networking vendor bearing gift of discount, boyo.
Networking readers may be aware of the fierce debate that has been raging in the industry for some time. It?s far more intense than the old you say tom-eh-to, I say tom-ah-to conflict. The scones row ? sco-wu-nes versus sconns ? pales into insignificance beside the controversy over the pronunciation of router.
Is it the Anglicised root-er or the American row-ter? Over here in Silly-con Valley, the latter dominates but a growing band of language freedom fighters is promoting the former. Personally, I was strongly in favour of the root-er version until I arrived here and felt my spirit crushed by the dominance of row-ter. But now my favourite is making a comeback and plenty of Americans use my preferred version.
I have heard Americans use an expression which sounded like read ?n? rowt, and had no idea what they meant. It?s what is written on circular memos, meaning read and then send on its route to the next on the list. It?s the little differences like this that make life interesting and remind you why they call you an alien immigrant when you enter the country. So long live root-er. I wouldn?t get any kicks on row-te 66.
Over here, everyone is obsessed by the success of the internet. There is little outrage about outages and nobody doubts it when everyone says the internet is safe for electronic commerce. Internet superlatives are bandied about like the greatest, most spectacular, fastest-moving stream of rubbish.
It seems the Americans are astonished by the Europeans? perceived lack of interest in the internet. Oracle president Ray Lane has warned that Europe will fall behind in business if we do not keep up online.
People in the US seem to assume that everyone in Europe has learned how to speak English and everyone is computer obsessed ? and that if they are not, they soon will be. And I thought we Brits had cornered the market in ignorance about Europeans.
I have to admit it: all this introverted internet obsession will probably not cause any problems for the US and they will probably win in business over us Europeans in the long term, as Lane suggests.
But it amuses me that they seem so obsessed with the future that they are short sighted about the present.
I told a bloke at a press conference last week that I could get him something useful for free. It contains all the succinct, relevant business news and information he needs every week, I said, in a 40Mb file which arrives on his desktop without any need for him to wait to download it.
He asked if it was push technology. I told him it is a type of push technology, yes, and it is even portable so it could be useful when he is away from his desktop. Naturally, he wanted to know what this astonishing piece of technology was.
?It?s called PC Dealer,? I said.
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