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Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The No 1 Gold Stock for 2019

Are You Ready for The Greatest Technology Revolution Yet?

Companies / Internet Aug 17, 2014 - 04:42 PM GMT

By: Investment_U


Alexander Green writes: A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll out this month shows that American optimism is at an all-time low.

When asked if "life for our children's generation will be better than it has been for us," only 21% of respondents said yes. That was the lowest ever recorded.

Apparently, 79% of Americans see the world through a dark prism, one delivered 24/7 by a bleak and pessimistic national media whose unofficial motto is "If it bleeds, it leads."

Sure, when I look at the soft economic recovery, political dysfunction in Washington, and the violence in the Middle East - not to mention Justin Bieber atop the pop music charts - it's more than a little depressing.

But let's exercise a little perspective here...

Before 1800, economic growth was imperceptible. Most people enjoyed the standard of living of present-day Bangladesh. Men and women (and their children) labored hard to earn a subsistence living. A failed harvest could kill millions. Half of all babies died before age 5. Those who made it to adulthood were generally illiterate and usually didn't live beyond their 40s.

A Different World

Two things changed that: technology and the free market system. They continue to revolutionize our world today.

Take what is happening with materials. Nanotechnology is allowing us to develop new ceramics, resins and solids that deliver revolutionary properties in elasticity, hardness and resilience.

Graphene, for example, is a sheet of thin carbon whose molecules can be arranged to make it either the strongest or the most flexible material on Earth. It conducts heat and electricity better than any material ever discovered and will soon replace silicon in transistors, solar cells and other applications.

Another enormous plus for the global economy is "The Cheap Smartphone Revolution." According to Strategy Analytics, 285 million smartphones were shipped in the first quarter of 2014. (More than a billion will ship this year.)

We are now entering the post-iPhone era. Driven by popular mobile apps like Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Uber, the new smartphones are faster, smaller (or bigger, if you prefer) more powerful... and cheaper.

Billions of New "Netizens"

Right now only a third of the world's population is connected to the Internet. But Internet adoption is growing at 9% a year. Billions more - especially in the developing world - will soon join us.

I mentioned this to a friend and he scoffed.

"Twenty percent of the world's population earns two dollars a day. How the hell are they going to buy a smartphone?"

Here's how...

Mozilla, the company behind the popular Firefox browser and operating system, recently signed a partnership with Chinese fabless chipmaker Spreadtrum to make the world's cheapest smartphone.

It will offer a 3.5-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 320x480 pixels, integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio, camera, the Firefox OS and browser, and, of course, traditional cell service.

The cost of this smartphone? Twenty-five bucks. Someone who makes two dollars a day will be able to buy one with less than two weeks' wages.

Consider the Possibilities

These dirt-cheap smartphones - productivity platforms for wealth creation - will have extraordinary implications for the global economy.

The tech giants are already moving to cash in. Google has launched Project Loon to bring the Internet to rural and developing areas through high-altitude balloons. And it is teaming up with Facebook to invest in drones to circle around and provide mobile connectivity.

This huge increase in connectivity is a game changer. Just listen to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, writing in The Wall Street Journal recently:

There have been moments in history where the invention of new technology has completely rewired the way our society lives and works. The printing press, radio, television, mobile phones and the Internet are among these. In the coming decades, we will see the greatest revolution yet, as billions of people connect to the Internet for the first time.

Internet access allows anyone to participate in the global economy. People everywhere will use online tools to gather information, act on opportunities, form businesses and create jobs.

A recent study by Deloitte found that expanding Internet access in developing countries will create 140 million jobs and lift 160 million people out of poverty. (Now that's an anti-poverty program.) And these new adopters will benefit us too as they share, create and invent new products and services that we'll use.

These breakthroughs are not "on the horizon." They are here. Now.

Most investors don't realize these things. Those who do are often too fearful to act.

Apparently, they're too busy listening to cable news and bemoaning their children's prospects.

Perhaps they haven't considered that human life spans have never been longer. Living standards have never been higher. The rate of violent crime has never been lower. And national household net worth - at more than $80 trillion - has never been greater.

Indeed, Americans today report being far less optimistic about the future than in 1942, when we were in the fight of our lives against Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito.

Perhaps the essayist Randall Jarrell put it best: "People who live in a Golden Age usually go around complaining about how yellow everything looks."

Good investing,



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