by billhilf on March 28, 2007 12:45am


I recently spent time in South East Asia.  As always these trips are enlightening, but as I wrote before one of the most important missions of these visits is to understand the health, growth and diversity of the local software economy.  And it’s not just the Microsoft related software economies, but how all software is growing in a country.  Indonesia is a particularly interesting example, with thousands of islands, over 250M people, and broadband and PC penetration in very low single digits, the potential for a powerful and unique software ecosystem is very real.  While I was there I had a chance to talk with computer science students at BINUS International in Jakarta which was personally very motivating.  The Philippines has extraordinary characteristics related to SMS or ‘texting’ (in 2005, over 250M text messages a day) and the use of mobile devices and technologies. With 6% GDP growth and the rapid growth and utilization of technology such as mobile devices (and also some very exciting online gaming businesses such as LevelUp!), I expect the Philippines to boom in the software world.

In Thailand I visited Software Park and discussed local software growth with one of the premier software incubation agencies in Bangkok.  Take a look at their Software Gallery (photo on right), creatively showing off all the published software from the companies incubated at the park.  Software Park was a very cool place to visit, certainly a vibrant and passionate development environment but they also have amazing elevators, no buttons inside the elevator car, you tell the security guard what floor you need to go to, and they key it in.  At first I thought it was just for security, but it is also a much more efficient system as the sequence is always point-to-point, no randomization or mistakes.

I also spent time with members of the Thai software community, where we originally planned about an hour, but ended up going on for about two and a half once we got into questions.  The discussion was great and I want to thank everyone who attended for spending the time and all the questions.

One fascinating trend in each of these emerging markets is technology generation skipping.  With the fast growth and size of population, it’s not uncommon for the market to jump over an entire generation of technology.  Indonesia is a good example, with such low broadband usage (and infrastructure) many users are simply going direct to 3G wireless versus moving from dial-up to broadband.  I’ve seen this in other countries as well – it’s exciting because this type of exponential growth is fertile ground for big and surprising innovation.  It’s an awesome time to be a software developer in environments like this.

Next trip couldn’t be more different, Las Vegas for Mix 07 – where Sam and I will be attendees only (first time actually ‘attending’ a conference for me in years, which I’m excited about).  There will be some very cool stuff at Mix07 – such as WPF/E, opening up Windows Live data, Open Source applications using the .NET platform (with my friend Andi Gutmans from Zend on the panel), and a panel discussion called “Can’t ASP.NET and PHP Get Along?” (all session info here).  I think it will really be a great event, in addition keynoting will be Ray Ozzie and Robbie Bach and Scott Guthrie (if you want to see a rock star demo don’t miss Scott’s talk).  Here are a few preview ‘buzzcasts’ to give you an idea of what’s in store.  Vegas baby!

I’m looking forward to being back in Redmond this week, Monday I talked with folks at the Microsoft Technology Summit.  I enjoyed the conversation; hope the attendees did as well (some blog coverage here).