Out in Front: One and One

December 1, 2010  - By
Image: GPS World

Two figures for your holiday mulling here. I keep putting one and one together, and coming up with three.

The first one points to a value of $1,000 billion. Or, as we like to say, one trillion dollars. That has a nice ring to it.

The second one hovers at a lower level, around $230 billion, not nearly as melodic as the first. But if the second one creates the first one, how much magic is there in that — do you see what I’m saying?

Let me elucidate the second one first. It emerged at the European Navigation Conference, when a spokesperson for Galileo Services put forth the assertion that, currently, European industry holds a market share of around 20 percent of global GNSS hardware, software, and services, a market size he estimated at 180 billion euros, or $230 billion. Thus the first figure.

The speaker’s point was that in other high-tech sectors, European industry held a market share of 33 percent, so really, they could be doing better. But that’s beside my point, which takes, as a rough estimate — and much subject to debate, granted — that the current global market of GNSS hardware, software, and services lies in the neighborhood of $230 billion.

Returning to the first figure, it comes from a conversation with Paul Verhoef of the European Commission; a lengthy interview treats other issues, but I don’t want to let this snippet get away. He stated, based on some market research the EC has done but not yet released (you bet I’m trying), that “at the moment, 6 to 7 percent of the European Union gross domestic product (GDP) is directly dependent on the availability of GPS. This is a GDP value of around 800 billion euros; this is more than $1,000 billion.”

A cool trillion dollars of European economy directly dependent on GPS availability.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew the similar figure for the U.S. economy?

Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that it roughly equals the European number. So United States and Europe combined, two trillion dollars of GDP directly dependent on GPS availability. Throw in the rest of the world and I’ll bet you’re at three trillion dollars.

Boy, I wish I had an investment portfolio that I could throw $230 billion at, and wind up with $3 trillion at the end of the day.

What, what, what are world governments doing, pinching pennies and cutting back programs and replenishing on need and sliding to the right — when they could be feeding a roaring economic engine, a behemoth that would support and stimulate so many other industries, and their GDPs as a whole?

Come to think of it, Russia and China are pushing forward with this capitalist plan. It’s Western countries that appear ignorant of, and thus unable to learn from, their own economic history.

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