Mobility demand creates tech inflection point

Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law are accepted principles of technology development. But a third factor -- users' demand for mobility -- has also come into play in recent years, said Gary Forsee, president and chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel.

The three forces already shape technology development, and will continue to do so, he said, speaking at the Northern Virginia Technology Council's "Spotlight on Technology" dinner Nov. 21.

Moore's Law holds that processor power -- measured by the number of transistors that can be squeezed onto a chip -- doubles every 18 months at the same price point. Metcalfe's Law -- which has some detractors -- states that the value of a network increases exponentially with the number of users.

The Law of Mobility, as dubbed by Forsee, is the third, emerging, principle. He pointed to camera phones and portable DVD players as examples. Previously unrelated technologies are merging so that any new device is likely to be a "virtual Swiss army knife" of combined capabilities, he said.

"Right now the industry is undergoing tremendous changes," he said.

Forsee was followed by Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat whose Democratic lieutenant governor, Tim Kaine, was recently elected to the top office. Virginia law limits the state’s governors to one term.

Warner, whom some see as a potential candidate for president or vice president in 2008, was a venture capitalist before first running for office. He opened his remarks at the dinner by expressing his hope that companies he invested in were doing well, because "in 58 days, I'm looking for work."

Warner dwelled on his administration's efforts to improve education and encourage technological development throughout the state. Although the Washington, D.C., suburbs that make up Northern Virginia have historically been home to well-educated professionals and technology businesses, other areas of the state have been dependent on mining, manufacturing and agriculture, particularly tobacco farming.

But in October, CGI-AMS announced plans to invest $6 million to open a software development and systems integration facility in the Russell Regional Business Technology Park in southwest Virginia’s Russell County. The project is expected to create 300 technology jobs there in the next 30 months. Northrop Grumman also recently embarked on a project expected to create technology jobs in that region.

Warner said the announcements and others demonstrate the transformation of regions of the state away from Washington, D.C. They are significant for the state's rural areas, while "in Fairfax, it would be just another day in a vibrant community," he said.

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