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Google And The Globe's 'Smiling Curve'

Value Addition In The Internet Age

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The Smiling Curve is a useful Model devised by Acer Group Chairman Stan Shih to Understand Business Value Addition Strategies in the Internet Age.


On India's Republic Day - 26th January 2004, the famous US Columnist Thomas Friedman in an article in The New York Times and The Indian Express wrote about his visit to the Google headquarters in California.

I quote "....I was at Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley a few days ago, and they have this really amazing electronic global map that shows, with lights, how many people are using Google to search for knowledge.





The region stretching from Morocco to the border of India had almost no lights....


I was wondering as to whether A Variation of The Smiling Curve Model was also applicable here.

Between Morocco on the Western Africa coast and the Western Borders of India, lie the entire spectrum of African and Middle-East Countries.

Could these countries be perhaps called as 'Digitally Dark' Regions ?



If One could perhaps equate Extent of Google Usage with Digital Awareness and Richness.




If very few people in these regions are using the Internet and Google (which to my mind is the Universal Middle Manager in any organization), then it does provide some pointers to their Internet and Web Literacy.

(Or conversely Information Technology (IT) Illiteracy and Ignorance).

In the Smiling Curve Model, one should to plot the number of people using Google on the Y-Axis.

Also, Transpose the global map (at least as we Indians see it) with the American Continent on the left hand side.

East Asia (including China and Japan) on the right hand side.

Africa and Middle-East in the middle.

The Smiling Curve Variation fits perfectly with Mr. Friedman's observation above.



What could be the reason for this Digital Darkness ?

Maybe lack of Spoken and Written English there. (But wait, Google has other language versions also).

Or could it be the weak Internet access and low penetration rates in these regions ?

Or could it be that people in these regions do not see the need to Google ?

Perhaps An interesting topic for future research by students.

Can India help the countries at the bottom of the Smiling Curve above become Digital Dynamos ?





Thus, Ensuring IT Development & smiles on the people of these countries ?

Only then we can perhaps try to claim fame to the much vaunted title of Information Technology (IT) Superpower that our politicians are so fond of saying frequently.

And strive to climb up from our current low rank in global IT Competitiveness.


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Updated on 27th November 2008
Posted on 10th February 2005

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