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What drives innovation

Nov 10, 2011
Carter Wood

Elsewhere, innovation ranks high among the contributions that U.S. big businesses make to the economy and Americans' standard of living, Gary Hufbauer and Martin Vieiro write in a Foreign Affairs piece, "BIg Business is Good for America."

Jacobs appeared on CBNC last Thursday (video) in conjunction following release of Qualcomm's 4Q financials -- a record fiscal 2011 performance! -- and while there is some concern about the global economy, the "winds are at our back," he said. " Everyone wants smartphones, the emerging markets are going to third generations, new devices are coming out." How many devices will the public demand? Jacobs:

I really think people will be using multiple devices. in fact, if we look into the future, we have some researchers who say we'll have 1,000 radios per person, because we’re going to have sensors we wear on our bodies, sensors in the environment around us, communications and the lights and cash registers, microphones, speakers, all these kinds of things in the world around us.  The phone will act as our ability to interface with those things. I think you'll have an awful lot of devices, but in the next couple years, it probably will be a smartphone, a tablet, your car will be connected, a handful of devices.

Now over to the piece in Foreign Affairs, with the secondary headline, "Why Vilifying Corporations Misses the Point." Using the Occupy Wall Street protests as the jumping off point, the two Peterson Institute authors rebut "misconceptions" about big businesses:

The third common misconception has to do with the role of big business in innovation. In an earlier era, Americans romanticized the family farm. Today, we celebrate small places with big ideas. It is true that Steve Jobs built the first Apple computer in his garage and that Mark Zuckerberg typed the original lines of code for Facebook in his dorm room. But the genius of Jobs, Zuckerberg, and many others was in turning their ideas into highly competitive global enterprises. Apple now employs 46,000 full-time employees -- and it is the combined energy of those employees that delivered the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the National Academy of Engineers ranked the greatest achievements of the previous century based on how each innovation improved people's quality of life. Major U.S. corporations -- the Edison companies, General Electric, AT&T, and General Motors -- played significant roles in the development, production, and distribution of the majority of these achievements.