Digital technology will have its heyday in the next decade, a bullish Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, said last week.
In a keynote address to more than 160 Fortune Global 1000 chief executives, Gates claimed that the collapse of the dotcom boom signalled not the end of technology's economic dominance but, in Winston Churchill's words, "the end of the beginning".
"This next decade will be a big one. This is the decade when your involvement with computing will be pervasive," he told the executives.
Gates cited a lack of high-speed broadband access as the primary barrier to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies.
"That's the one thing holding this back. You wish there would be some breakthrough, but there won't be in the next three or four years. Over time the cost of the chip, and hopefully the regulatory environment, will make that pervasive, but not as quickly as we'd like," he said.
Microsoft recently entered this area with its smart mobile phone software, codenamed Stinger.
Gates's optimism about the "digital decade" was based on market opportunities for intellectual property, although he admitted that there were problems with piracy.
He cited worldwide music piracy through online services and profit loss as a result of brand name drug knock-offs. "There are issues about whether people should pay for intellectual property," he said.
Gates used the internet start-up model as an example of changing rules. "It's not just the dotcom phenomenon that changed. It's a coming of age of people understanding the risk levels in these investments," he said.
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