Who is in an industry defines that industry. When the definitions of the major players change it often indicates a seismic shift in industry priorities and structure. Over the past two months there has been a subtle but important change in the definition of high technology companies. A shift is happening and is being recorded not in the business press.
Views on traditional hardware and software companies and their criticality to the future of the industry are changing.
Late last year the Wall Street Journal ran its annual outlook for Technology and it featured Facebook and Google in the top five companies it reviewed. Is this an early indication that business is defining the technology market as increasingly revolving around software rather than hardware?
The real kicker was President Obama’s visit to Silicon Valley in mid February to discuss innovation, R&D and jobs. In the WSJand other media outlets provided a subtle but powerful indication of the change in technology when it described who attended the meeting.
“At the home of venture capitalist John Doerr just outside San Francisco, Mr. Obama met with Apple’s Steve Jobs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Eric Schmidt, among others. The overall aim of the meeting was for Mr. Obama to discuss his competitiveness agenda, and to find new ways the government and private sector can work together to lift the shaky economy.”
The ‘among others’ included Cisco. The meeting did not include other traditional ‘tech’ companies.
It is important to note that the President appointed Apple’s Steve Jobs, who attended the dinner, to a Presidential commission and he went the next day to Oregon to visit with Intel and their Chairman and tour a new chip plant.
The technology industry is changing. We all know that. But how is often a matter of opinion and lately two opinion makers have indicated that what we have traditionally thought of as the hierarchy of High Tech companies is changing and with it the relative influence they have to shape the future.
Change can be as subtle as who you invite for dinner.