Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a letter written to customers by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer prior to the release of the new Windows 7 operating system. This letter was primarily written to justify switching to the newest version of Windows, stating that there would be a cost savings associated with the switch because of decreased support costs. He even went so far to say that companies could expect to see increased worker productivity. More interesting to our class, Steve Ballmer spent a great deal of this letter speaking about “the new normal,” and the important role of innovation in the economic recovery of the United States.
In his closing, he stated that the future economic growth of our country would be attributed to technological innovations. This seemed quite contrary to the trends in innovation we discussed at the beginning of our class, such as public policy and business model innovations. However, like my last post demonstrated, it is technological innovation that is recognized and rewarded in the United States. Patent laws seem to me to be a formalized way the United States encourages these technological innovations. Our readings and discussion described how difficult it was to enforce patents on innovations that did not have clear bounds. In light of this, is the innovation trend away from technology real or a dream of researchers and professors alike?