I mentioned in a recent posting on American manufacturing, that we might see a shift from the mass-produced product to the individually-produced or custom-designed product. This trend would favor small niche US manufacturers. To use a concept form Complexity Theory, the "Fitness Landscape" will shift away from Chinese mass production.
So yesterday I picked up a Wired Magazine and the cover story is about Limor Fried and others who are doing small-run custom designs. The articles are fascinating, and I urge any of you who follow the design world to read about this new trend.
About six months ago, I decided that we're in the throes of yet another Internet Bubble. I don't recall if I blogged about it, but it has been on my mind for some time now. The New York Times has weighed in on this, with some comparisons between now and 2000. Of course we have the quotes from the Wall Street experts who tell us, "This time is different."
As someone once said, "Every generation thinks they've just invented sex and popular music." I guess every generation of Wall Street experts thinks they've just invented new ways to make money. That's often true. They just haven't invented new ways to lose money!
Here's my prediction - we will see one IPO that will set off the rest, just as we saw Netscape launch the previous bubble. Maybe it will be LinkedIn, or Groupon. It won't be Facebook, just as it wasn't Google last time. But once those first couple of IPOs rocket, we're off to the races again. Like last time, it'll take about 4 years to burst.
It's not that I don't think Facebook will monetize on a scale we've yet to see - they will. It's not that I don't think Groupon can make money - they already do. There were successful companies from the last boom - Amazon et al. The strong will survive. But there will be other frothy followers who will burst.
This time, we may also be talking not about a "jobless recovery" but about a "jobless boom." As I've written before, I don't think this type of tech activity is sufficient to create the kind of job growth we need to absorb 9.5% unemployment. To be sure, unemployment will drop, but it won't be as low as 5.5% at the height of this next tech boom.
Here's the perennial problem with all these new ventures - they rely on "consumer spending". It ALWAYS about inducing the consumer to spend more money. Since the consumer is tapped out, all it becomes is SHIFTING spending from one activity to another. It's a zero sum game unless one creates REAL GROWTH. Replacing retail workers with Groupon sales people doesn't create more jobs necessarily, it merely shifts them. But I stand to be pleasantly surprised. I hope I'm wrong.