Anybody who has tried to lift a seventh-grade history textbook knows that Amazon’s Kindle 2 e-reader is the wave of the future. Books will always have a place in our culture, but e-readers are just a lot easier (and cheaper) to use for many types of reading. So it’s comforting to know that the most advanced e-reader on the market was designed right here in America, at Amazon’s Lab126 in California. Who says America is losing its edge in high technology?
Well, Gary Pisano and Willy Shih of the Harvard Business School say so. They took apart a Kindle 2 and discovered none of the parts are made in America. The battery, controller board, circuit connector and case are made in China. The display is made in Taiwan. The wireless card is made in South Korea. And oh, by the way, the parts are assembled into a finished product in China. So what seems like a fine example of American ingenuity turns out to be a case study of America’s technology decline.
Obviously, when all of the content of a product comes from other countries, that’s where most of the sales revenues end up too. And the reason this happens in the case of Kindle 2, it turns out, is because we let the manufacture of items like cell phones, notebook computers, and flat-panel televisions slip away to East Asia. Almost nobody makes those things in America anymore (even if they have American brand names), so now we are dependent on foreigners for the tools of the future.
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