IT chiefs look for slowdown solutions

Top executives from Google and 3Com took their best shots today at summing up what the IT industry could do to improve its...

Top executives from Google and 3Com took their best shots today at summing up what the IT industry could do to improve its business prospects after all that went wrong last year.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Software and Internet Council, Eric Schmidt, chairman and chief executive of Google, said the technology trend bandwagon has fallen woefully short of finding the new killer applications that can capture the attention of corporate users.

Schmidt, who took over as chief executive at the Internet search engine vendor last summer, pointed to new technologies such as Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), XML, SOAP, and Microsoft .net as examples of ideas that have not fully realised their potential.

"In most cases, the killer app didn't arrive," Schmidt said. "Why don't people just pick the best technology, under-price the market, lose some money for the first six months and gain market share? Why not be aggressive?"

Eric Benhamou, chairman of both 3Com. and Palm, focused on a topic that has become a key priority for many high-tech industry executives: the proposed development of broadband communications capabilities across the US.

"It's a national imperative that we create and adopt a broadband policy," Benhamou told the audience. "Most European countries have [already] adopted a policy like this." He added that more government leadership would be required on the broadband issue, echoing recent lobbying efforts by industry chiefs in Washington.

Benhamou lambasted telecoms vendors for spending of huge amounts of money on fibre-optic backbones that so far have largely gone unused. He blamed "last mile" connectivity problems that affect businesses and home users alike on a lack of broadband connections.

Benhamou also warned attendees about an increased risk of cyberterrorism. Using recent study data from the University of Delaware to draw a correlation between physical terrorist attacks and online incidents, he said: "I think we're all going to have to investigate our vulnerability to cyberattacks.".

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