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  • Web Brings Sweeping Change to Asia, Ellison Says at Info Summit
  • November 24, 1998 (SAN FRANCISCO) -- The Internet is bringing sweeping change to Asian countries, said Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp., at the Asia-Pacific Information Technology Summit held in Santa Clara, Calif.
    Ellison noted that companies in Korea and Taiwan are among those that are well-positioned to offer less-expensive Internet computers for accessing the Web. Dissemination of such less-expensive devices for Web access means that the population base of users can expand at a brisk pace. That's because many people in Asia cannot afford to pay much for the tools to link to the Internet or for access.

    He asserted that in an ideal world, Internet access would be nearly universal and that everyone would have access. However, Ellison noted that not even the telephone enjoys that degree of success.

    "Still, if countries do not participate in e-commerce, they will lose opportunities," Ellison said.

    The Internet provides an alternative to the Microsoft model, Ellison noted. He explained that complexity in the form of operating systems and applications programs could instead be put on centralized servers and taken off of the end-user terminals. Because such terminals will be inexpensive, they will help spread Internet access.

    The Web can serve as a tool that centralizes complexity and renders retrieving information or engaging in e-commerce a relatively simple experience, Ellison noted.

    "The Internet will make education much more accessible across Asia," said the CEO of the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based database software giant.

    Oracle is a pivotal high-tech company in the northern part of the Silicon Valley. In fact, it is by far the largest software enterprise in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Other speakers at the Asia-Pacific Information Technology Summit discussed national efforts to assemble critical masses of high-tech intellectual power at centers similar to the Silicon Valley.

    The Hsinchu science park near Taipei is now responsible for an eighth of Taiwan's entire industrial output, said G.J. Hu, vice president of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

    Hu noted that Hsinchu has a number of attributes that makes it attractive and effective. Hsinchu maintains close links to the Silicon Valley; it hosts national research laboratories that transfer technology to small companies; it is strongly supported by the government; and it possesses a pool of engineering talent from nearby universities from which to draw.

    The dominant product at Hsinchu is that of microchips, followed by computers and peripheral equipment in second place, and telecommunications gear ranking third.

    Hsinchu is the most successful high-tech industrial park in the Asia-Pacific region, said Chong-Moon Lee, founder of Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc.

    Lee warned that other Asian efforts to mimic the Silicon Valley are unlikely to be as effective as Hsinchu, because their cultures may not be as conducive to the entrepreneurial spirit.

    Jinkoo Seo, CEO of Media Valley Inc., said that Korea is building an industrial park at Inchon, about 40km from Seoul. The Media Valley high-tech center is expected to support about 35,000 people working there in 2005, in R&D; facilities, corporate offices and production facilities.

    However, Oracle's Ellison noted that a new paradigm is arising: that of e-commerce, in which geographic location is becoming increasingly less important.

    By building and expanding high-tech centers like the Media Valley in Korea or a number of similar parks in China, urban planners may be losing sight of the fact that the Internet is rendering physical centers less efficacious.

    (Neil Davis, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Mon Nov 23 17:00:44 1998 PDT