People & Power

‘Madness’ that is IT innovation mania

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The new Samsung Galaxy. PHOTO BY AFP

The new Samsung Galaxy. PHOTO BY AFP 

By Timothy Kalyegira

Posted  Sunday, March 17  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Lagging behind. I do not see any hope at all that we are going to compete with those Asians and Whites any time soon. We simply lack the consciousness, the technical skill, the burning ambition, the infrastructure and the backup capital to start.

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Samsung and Apple are at it again. Late last week, Samsung released the latest version of its Galaxy S4 smart phone in New York City, intended to compete with the American giant Apple in the high-end market.

The new Samsung phone will be distributed to the rest of the world at the end of April. Samsung already dominates the lower end of the market worldwide, now the world’s largest maker of cell phones. It has, however, failed to break Apple’s stranglehold on the large and lucrative US market, where the iPhone dominates.

This is Samsung’s plan: To take on Apple on Apple’s own home base, after their bitter court battle last year over charges that one or the other was copying (or stealing) the designs of the other.

I spend much time doing research on global trends on the Internet and on international television. I’ve written before that when I see the increasingly complex innovation by the world’s leading technology companies, when I see all those super-smart minds out there in the West and East Asia, I wonder about countries like Uganda.

I do not see any hope at all that we are going to compete with those Asians and Whites any time soon. We simply lack the consciousness, the technical skill, the burning ambition, the infrastructure and the backup capital to start.

Most of all, we lack the minds. The more I study the thinking of the West and the rising Asian economic giants like South Korea, Taiwan, China and the established Japan, the more I see what’s wrong with us.

Chinese experience
I first saw this in Beijing during the 2008 summer Olympic Games and wrote about it at the time. Africans are simply too plain ordinary to be a factor in the world today and tomorrow. We are just too plain ordinary and “normal”.

Our deepest goals, investments, ambitions, dreams and attitude is of the plainest kind. Even the best-paid middle class Black Africans and Black Americans, for whom comfort, means and money are no problem, the goals in life are the usual, plain, simple ones. Our lack of extraordinariness, I believe, is one reason for the historical lagging behind among Africans.

In a funny way, the only Africans I’ve ever seen whose personalities come close to being like Europeans and Far East Asians, are the few with mental illnesses in places like Butabika Hospital just outside Kampala.

The people whom Ugandan and African society usually mocks or dismisses as “mad” (and many are “mad”), when I talk to or listen to them, are the only Africans I know with the strangeness of ideas, flights of thought, unusual perspectives and for the bipolar types, the driving energy to approximate what we see in the West.

This leads me to ask if mental patients in Africa are actually ill, in the true sense of the word, or the explanation for the great innovation we see in Europe and America is because most of those Whites are actually borderline crazy.

It can’t just be about “thinking outside the box”. This is more than just being an outlier. To create some of the features we see on the latest smart phones, you need to be close to crazy to even start thinking along those lines.

The new Samsung Galaxy S4 phone comes with a feature where you can start or stop a video clip just by looking at it or turning your eyes away from it.

Google’s fibre optic Internet cable, now being tested in selected cities in the United States, carries data at 50 times faster than the current fastest speeds in the West.

You would think that with a market valuation at over $227 billion and the co-founders already billionaires many times over, Google would run out of the hunger to innovate. But they just go on and on and on, from Google Fiber to Google Glasses (an innovation that enables a 3-D viewing of data and logging onto the Internet), to the Google Streetview cars for their maps.

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