I'm a science-fiction buff. Have been since I was 13 and read Edgar Rice Burroughs' “At the Earth's Core.” I think that is one reason I'm a real technology buff. Now, I read other books as well, especially history books. And every now and then you can even find me reading everything from news magazines to, dare I say it, Mad magazine.
While I'll admit it has been sometime since I've actually picked up a copy of Mad, I had a friend pass one along to me recently. It was an older issue that offered a parody of Star Wars. The Mad folks did their usual good pickling of the Star Wars universe. But, as I thumbed through it, I couldn't help but look back at the cover with Alfred E. “What? Me worry?” Neuman.
Which brings me to my column last month. You may recall that I am not jumping on the demise of telecom bandwagon. After writing the column, I saw Warren Buffet, the legendary investor, revel in his glory as tech stocks plummeted. Once again he was all about the “blue-chip” stocks. But as I watched him it struck me that I was watching the investment world's Alfred E. Neuman. It also struck me that his lack of faith in tech stocks probably means he never read a science-fiction book.
Tech stocks vs. blue-chip stocks
“Alfred E. Buffet,” I think, will still be proven to be a false idol. Who can argue against the blue-chip “What? Me worry?” stocks. But to say the tech stocks should be avoided (which he again advocated) is absurd. Why do I, “Roger E. Neuman” not worry? Because technology is the cornerstone of our future. It is our communications future. It is our defense future. It will make the future.
You may ask, and rightfully so, just how I can adopt such an Alfred E. Neuman attitude. Even with the layoffs and slowdowns that are facing the industry, there are still rays of light. (Fiber optic?) A report from the Associated Press notes that DSP manufacturers are not seeing a downturn. Semiconductor stocks have been upgraded in the eyes of investors. The projections for a rebound, which initially had the upturn taking place next year, are now more positive. Some analysts are now seeing the upturn beginning as early as late summer.
And the beat goes on
While I'm beating the drum for a more positive approach to the marketplace, I'm also beating the drum of technological advancements. I again point to the number of new products on the market. While these were designed before the downturn, companies are not entrenching or postponing production. Also, from the IEEE MTT-S IMS product announcements I have seen, there is not exactly a slowdown.
And what about drumming up support for new applications? They're coming. All one has to do is watch TV to see the spot ads for new apps.
And what about defense spending? The Bush administration will, I believe, correct the under spending of the previous administration. This will mean more opportunity for telecommunications technology and applications. Remember former Defense Secretary William Perry's commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) mandate. Well, it is alive and well. The Department of Defense will turn to COTS devices and capability to augment its current command and control (C2). How do I know this? First, enhanced communications capability is always a top priority. Second, while defense spending has been down over the past eight years, the one area that has maintained growth has been C2. Third, 21 years dealing with military electronics did not leave me without a few trustworthy contacts. Enough said.
Bottomline — Stay the course and if somebody asks how you feel, smile and say, “What? Me worry?”