Larry Elliott raises an interesting question regarding Huawei, it is an issue I raised a few times over the last months, even last year. I made a reference going back to December 2018 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/12/06/tic-toc-ruination/) where in ‘Tic Toc Ruination‘ I said had “In a statement, the UK telecoms group has confirmed it is in the process of removing Huawei equipment from the key parts of its 3G and 4G networks to meet an existing internal policy not to have the Chinese firm at the centre of its infrastructure“, all at the behest of spymaster incredibili Alex Younger. Yet actual evidence of Chinese activities was never given in evidence. Alex does something else and in retrospect to his French, American and Canadian peers something that is actually intelligent. He gives us: “the UK needed to decide if it was “comfortable” with Chinese ownership of the technology being used.”” This is at the foundation of “We can agree with Alex Younger that any nation needs to negate technological risk, we could consider that he seemingly had the only valid opposition against Huawei, as it was not directed at Huawei, but at the fact that the tech is not British, the others did not work that path, and as we see that technology is cornered by the big 7, those in the White House with an absent person from both Apple and Huawei. We have accepted the changed stage of technology and that might not have been a good thing (especially in light of all the cyber-crimes out there), also a larger diverse supplier group might have addressed other weak spot via their own internal policies, another path optionally not averted.” The issue is that ‘the tech is not British‘, so finding a temporary solution for British technology to catch up is an essential move. Whilst Larry gives us: “why a country that emerged from the second world war with a technological edge in computers and electronics should require the assistance of what is still classified as an emerging economy to construct a crucial piece of national infrastructure” is a very correct stance. The issue is that some got lazy and others got managed by excel users, getting it somewhere else is just cheaper. The combination has now created a technology gap that spans part of 4G and pretty much the entire 5G stage, that is before my IP comes into play, I found the niche that others forgot, in commerce and cyber security, as the gap is about to increase and for me the limitation is that only Huawei and Google have the optional stage where the problem can be solved (read: properly addressed). I am certain that there is more, I have not gone deep enough with what I found, implying that my window of opportunity is not that big. Larry Elliott goes on in his article taking to bat a few issues from 1967 onwards that gives rise to the UK loss, you should read it as it is a really good article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/05/the-huawei-incident-points-to-a-deeper-lesson-for-great-britain). There is one element that was missing, it was the stage of the 90’s where the computer market moved from innovative to iterative, it is perhaps the larger (read: largest) failure. The advantage that places like IBM had were equaled within 3 years by makers like ASUS, A market of Printed Circuit Boards moved from US/UK held companies went to places like ASUS pretty much overnight, the people jumped to the competitive player that produced high end main boards. A company that started in 1989 owned the gamers and PC builders within 10 years at that point ASUS was the number one choice. It was not merely the high quality, the fact that architectures that were set in motion in one year were offered in upgraded form within a year. It is seen in “Intel itself had a problem with its own 486 motherboard. Asus solved Intel’s problem and it turned out that Asus’ own motherboard worked correctly without the need for further modification. Since then, Asus was receiving Intel engineering samples ahead of its competitors” (David Llewelyn, ‘Invisible Gold in Asia: Creating Wealth Through Intellectual Property‘, p143.), by the time the people were ready Asus had its Pentium II boards with one interesting nuance, unlike IBM, the board supported more processors, so the P2-350 also supported the P2-450, by spending an additional $35 on a better board, you could start with the P2-350 and upgrade to the P2-450 a year later, a person would save $525 and extend the life of their PC by 2 years.
It was an innovation that saved the people money, an issue that IBM never cared for. The iterative market got overwhelmed by Taiwan titan ASUS and the market in the UK and US started to slide. As I personally see it, the market was handed to executives measured by revenue and they were unwilling to take the big fight and decided to settle for $100K less income and zero risk and after 2-3 years they would move on degrading the market as a whole; that is how I see it. Now that the newest market requires actual knowledge and know how, we see a lack of non-Asian players. Yet Larry focusses on the part that matters most for the UK, there is no manufacturing vision (read: a lack of vision), a vision that would be essential for 5G, it is the one exponential growing market for the next decade and as such not having a game to play will make you miss out on it all. So there are two options, one forfeit the game or find a partner to build that market with, in that we see the Huawei would be the best fit, they are the most advanced. The alternative is finding an Ericsson or Nokia alternative, they are both chasing Huawei, so finding a solution with Huawei implies that Huawei creates another competitor for Ericsson and Nokia, which would suit them best, at that point the UK solution will be fighting over the same pie as Sweden and Finland are. Sybase did that trick with the MS SQL server and it did them a lot of good (for a while), the biggest part is that the UK needs to take a long term strategic stand on manufacturing and that is where the floor tends to fall from under your feet. The UK has shown to lack that vision for too often and now it will come at a much greater cost.
In the end the problem is not merely catching up with Huawei, it will be about remaining innovative with the products, optionally surpassing them. That has been a problem for almost 20 years and fending off bad habits is a time consuming, as well as an energy consuming effort. For most the problem is not merely remaining innovative, it is identifying it when it is offered and there we see that the UK has had its own moments of Titanic proportions when it came to missing out. If we look into history, we see that British innovation was an annual event at the very least; this has been diminished to thrice a decade at present. With 5G in coming, the idea of having enthusiasts with a Raspberry Pi and adding a 5G kit would be stellar, consider 19 million enthusiasts and if only 0.1% has an innovative idea, that still adds up to 19,000 with the chance of 190 patents. That is a multi-billion market right there, and it is not a man-made world either, you merely need to look at how JK Rowling and Joy Mangano got their boots on the floor to realise that this is a stage that is up for everyone to rule. Our problem is that every money maker seems to rely on 100% success at minimum (read: zero) investment, it might seem good business, but that is exactly how we lost the markets to indie developers in Asia and India.
In the end the tools we create is what enables a person to advocate and test: ‘What if I did it this way?‘ that is the one that makes for the innovation worth an easy 7 figure number and in that field no dream is too wild, because the need of people not realising that it made their lives easier is not that hard, you only need to see that they lacked merely one element, or another part to make it a better solution. That alone is worth a bundle and that is where the UK and several nations lost out, we forgot that this element requires creative thinking and actual creativity, as the schools cut those classes in favour of science and business, that is when we saw the change of leaders into sheep, following the work of others so that perhaps we might get a new idea does not work, not without a clear link to creativity and art. We lost 50% of the equation and started to think that this part would fill itself in (automatically) is where we lost, the solution was with us, and we forgot about the us part.
In that light I always remember Jeff Minter, some laugh and make a reference to the mutant camels, but the truth is that he was all about creativity and the list of his achievements is long, very very long. He has been around from the earliest Sinclair ZX to the PS4, if some Britons have one percent of his creativity the UK economic hardship would be over, it is that simple and even as we focus on the 5G needs and how the UK needs its own 5G solution (which is true), the UK can only do that by focusing on harnessing creativity that will lead to optional solutions, whilst that part remains missing the UK can merely hope to replicate what exists, not create what others forgot, seeing that is an essential first for those trying to sell you the story of a new technology.
And there is a second part, it is not what does it innovate, it is the second part: ‘What else could it be used for?‘ that is the larger part in all this. I always go back to the example from 1991, there was a company called WordPerfect and it had an excellent word processor. There was a secretary who found herself in a place where the budgets were not there, so they were confined to cheaper non-postscript laser printers (an issue in those days) as the postscript version was often thousands more expensive. So she did what no one had considered, she used the WP Equation editor to type the company name and a few other things, and added them in the letter, now (because of WP innovation) the letters suddenly looked like they came from high end expensive laser printers. Her work looked 200% better than anyone else in the company. The mere application of ‘What else could it be used for?‘, that is exactly the stage that some walked when they forgot what 5G also enables and more important, what it will allow for and there is the innovation worth billions, that is where creativity gets us, the lack of it leaves us with too little, or with gained advantage by pure chance. The chances lost were with us, or basically with the decision makers who did not comprehend the impact and cut it too far from education, and whoever followed in their footsteps are now required to clean up that mess.
Good luck with the attempt!