I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about specific technology companies that could take off and add some real beef to your financial portfolio (or warn you about tech stocks that could cut into your market gains).
What I'd like to do more is to discuss countries where the opportunity to make a buck through good technology plays is on the rise. By that I don't mean established bourses like the U.S. - I'd like to focus on smaller, more developing economies that are leaning on technology to grow their economies.
Take South Korea, for example. It's rise from a poverty stricken, agrarian economy to a robust, tech-driven economy has turned the country around. In 20 years or so, South Korea has turned from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the wealthiest. And it looks to be even stronger in future years thanks to a commitment to developing technology companies like Samsung, Nokia and LG, and a burgeoning interest in using technology to grow an increasingly "green" economy over the next 40 years.
The South Korean market is a natural for tech investors. Consider the following statistics from Tech Ticker:
-- Over 90% of Korean households have Internet access and more than 30% have broadband, both figures among the world's highest.
-- Over 80% of Korean households have mobile phones, with local giants Samsung and LG dominating the industry, thanks to some high barriers to foreign competition.
-- South Korea has 17.8% of the world's semiconductor capacity and almost 50% of DRAM market share, led by Samsung and Hynix.
In an interview this weekend on Tech Ticker with South Korean President Myung-bak Lee, which I did my best to accurately transcribe, Lee says the emphasis on technology in South Korea was no accident - that it's been the engine of economic growth there. Better yet, tech can do the same for Lee's vision of a "green" South Korean economy.
"My vision for the future of Korea is that we will take a lead and become an early mover in this endeavor to protect the global environment and to prepare ourselves for climate change, and I think we have no choice but to do so," Lee says.
Some other highlights from the interview:
-- "If you look at our agrarian economy over the past decades we had no growth to speak of. But we have, in recent years, decided to embrace a policy of developing our technology industry. We needed adaptability: the government and our people. Now we are one of the leading companies in information technology. It’s a good fit for South Korea: a strong business base and a good environment for growing technology companies."
-- (On creating more Samsungs and Nokia's) "I recognize that some people criticize the South Korean economy and want it to be more open. But the rate and speed at which we are opening now makes us one of the fastest economies in the world. In my term of office, I’ll be doing more of that."
-- (On South Korea becoming a “green” technology economy) "Korea was an early participant in the information era, and we will be, too, with green technologies and an early move to protect the global economy and protect the world from climate change. We don’t have a choice. If you look deep down inside if we prepared for climate change we can prepare ourselves for growth, just like we did in the information era. We also want to use our technology base to grow not only our own economy in a climate-changing world, but help other developing countries do so, as well."
South Korea has hit a bump, like most world economies in 2008. But Lee has a strong story to tell, and it's one tech investors should be paying attention to.