Intel chief switches on Australia's future

Australia should increase its spending on IT research and development to capitalise on a lucrative Asian market, Intel CEO Craig Barrett has urged.

Speaking at a keynote presentation in Sydney on Monday, Barrett's ‘Switched-On Australia' address highlighted the fact that Australia spends less than one per cent of its gross domestic profit (GDP) on research and development.

Using graphs to show Australia's place in the global IT market, Barrett said Australia's percentage was half that of the US, and behind other developed countries such as the UK and Canada.

"Australia doesn't rank particularly high in this category in [comparison with other] developed economies," he said.

"My company outspends your country substantially in this area [research and development], and my revenue base is not nearly as high as your GDP base, so I think you're not spending enough here."

However, another graph showed Asian nations' service industry's low contribution to GDP, with those of Australia and the US high in comparison.

This is one of the many great opportunities Australia has to increase its exports to the Asian market, according to Barrett.

Despite the current global "recession", Australia and other nations would soon enjoy a "bright future" by building around the Internet, he said.

"If you look at historical models of the adoption of technologies, heavy investment leads to a period of turbulence, which we're in now, before sustained growth."

Business to business trade online would help drive this, he said.

"Business to business commerce via the Internet is much more important than business to consumers. What drives us [Intel] to use the Internet is we think we can save a billion dollars a year by using the Internet to do our selling, our buying, and our employee communication activities."

Barrett focused on the Internet as the tool that could improve business to business trade, education and training, and merge the communication and entertainment industries.

The presentation included a demonstration of future home entertainment, when a ‘central' computer will wirelessly share DVD movies and music with any TV or stereo around the house, via information being sent or requested from it.

There to discuss Australia's digital future, Barrett made no mention of specific Intel products during his 90-minute address, but said later this was common practice at Intel, as the business had learned to win public trust by promoting its products only when they were in good supply.

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