Thinking Tech

So you're launching this blog from Taiwan?

Posting in Design

Ever wonder why this has been the gadget decade? How Apple was able to supply the whole market with its iPod and iPhone while it couldn't supply even one-tenth of it with the Macintosh 20 years ago?The answer is right here.

I would love to say that the idea of my being in Taiwan during the launch of SmartPlanet is part of some clever marketing plan. Like NPR having Melissa Block in Chengdu right before last year's earthquake.

Actually it is something like that. Block was in Chengdu as part of the run-up to the Olympics.

I am in Taiwan for CompuTex. I planned this trip before being called to SmartPlanet. But if you're really going to re-think tech, it turns out, this is really the place to be.

Ever wonder why this has been the gadget decade? How Apple was able to supply the whole market with its iPod and iPhone while it couldn't supply even one-tenth of it with the Macintosh 20 years ago?

The answer is right here.

China and Taiwan now dominate custom manufacturing worldwide. If you have a product you come here to get it made. Taiwanese OEMs can turn a design into pallets of stuff on a dime. The Chinese solution costs less, per unit, but you may have to wait longer, so Taiwan remains competitive.

My first thought was to come here on behalf of my ZDNet Open Source blog. I had been looking at what I called Linux Laptops for over a year (the marketplace calls them Netbooks), and I wanted to see what was coming. Maybe, I hoped, I could convince them to join my campaign for real keyboards.  

Thanks to SmartPlanet, I will be covering more than that. With my son (and translator) John at my side, I hope to make the contacts needed to stay in touch with all the tech trends emanating from this special relationship.

It is indeed a special relationship. Despite occassional complaints, the OEMs here remain dependent on America. America does the designs, America does the marketing, America arranges the financing that keeps the factories here humming.

The iPod and iPhone are just the best-known outgrowths of that relationship, but there are literally thousands of others. Look around your desk. Why do you think that WiFi router costs less than $50, and your printer less than $150?

We design it. We create the demand. We market it. We finance it.

They make it.

If you want to see how smart this planet might get in the next year, this is the place to be.

Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure