Emerging Markets As Cutting Edge Tech Test Beds

A while ago, I had pointed out that the epicenter of the tech world had moved somewhere in the middle of South China Sea. The point was that most of the new innovations – Fiber, Ethernet 2.0 and Mobile – were being deployed first in Asia and other rapid-growth economies, mostly because of lack of legacy. The latest example is Boston-based software-defined radio start-up Vanu Inc., is working with IBM and using virtualization to lower the costs of network operations and increase spectral efficiency.

“Emerging markets are becoming like incubators,” said Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobility research at IDC. “You incubate the idea there, get proof of concept. . . . Then you bring it home to the bigger markets . . . there are too many people here with too many interests to let any innovation go through to disrupt the market.”

For global carriers like Vodafone, T-Mobile and AT&T, these experiments have major ramifications – they can help them eek out some profits from their wireless voice business, and at the same time improve call quality.

Are we going to see more such-try-there-apply-here experiments in coming years? Of course. I think the big question is when the local entrepreneurs start thinking about innovating for their local markets along with harboring global ambitions. Chinese vendors, Huawei and ZTE are two examples of companies with global ambitions. In India there are some interesting fixed wireless start-ups that are gaining traction, not just locally but overseas in markets such as France.