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upsidedown

@utoronto.ca

Canada's Tech Sector, straight into the ground.

Disclaimer, this might step on a few toes so if you're one of those guys thats always like "Whoo hoo, Canada is #1", its probably not for you.

Since CES2013 started today, one couldn't help but notice the lack of Canadian tech. It seems like every time Canada has a tech company with some degree of success, it gets ran straight into the ground. Few examples would be NorTel, ATI, RIM, NOKIA (Canadian CEO, nosediving the Finns really). For a supposedly developed and first world nation, how is it that Canada cant really develop anything anymore? Surely we cant be THAT far behind the Americans and the Japanese, or even the S.Koreans and the Chinese.

Although, if you really think about it. Thats not true given the existence and success of Lenovo, Huawei, etc.

Doing pretty crummy as a first world nation really.

So... would anybody care to leave their pride behind and explain rationally why the Canadian tech sector either
a) Cant offer anything new to the market
or
b) Cant compete with the rest of the market


milnoc

join:2001-03-05
H3B
kudos:2
We pretty much destroyed our nation's tech competitiveness with the cancellation of the Avro Arrow project. We could have become dominant players in all kinds of advanced technology fields just from that single plane. Instead, we threw it all away, and our tech is almost entirely dictated by foreign multinationals.
--
Watch my future television channel's public test broadcast!
»thecanadianpublic.com/live


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to upsidedown
ATI didn't really get run into the ground, they just got bought.

Matrox sure dropped off the face of the Earth after the G400, though.


Wolfie00
My dog is an elitist
Premium
join:2005-03-12
kudos:8
reply to upsidedown
said by upsidedown :

So... would anybody care to leave their pride behind and explain rationally why the Canadian tech sector either
a) Cant offer anything new to the market
or
b) Cant compete with the rest of the market

Sure. It comes down to lack of political leadership (not talking about the current government in particular as this is a long-term problem, but the current one is particularly neanderthal in its outlook). Lack of leadership means lack of direct investment, lack of incentives for private investment, and ultimately the absence of the critical mass that is essential for a successful R&D infrastructure. As I've said many times before, the genesis of so many super-successful American tech companies like Apple was because they were founded by kids who grew up surrounded by this critical mass of technological innovation (in Silicon Valley, in particular), and had easy access to the knowledgeable people and technical resources they needed -- to learn when they were kids, and to thrive when they became company starters.

A good example of leadership in the big picture is the government-industry collaboration that has been the hallmark of Japan's R&D initiative. Instead, our leadership seems to be more interested in seeing how much dirty oil we can extract from the tar sands and how many trees we can chop down. We are undeniably a resource economy but we could still use that money to fund serious R&D, looking at it as a long term investment the way the Japanese do, and not a get-rich-quick scheme. We seem headed instead to be a nation of oil drillers and lumberjacks. It's amazing how much good science we somehow still do, and how much innovation is in our history, despite this. Imagine if our scientists and innovators got encouragement instead of obstruction!
--
"The promoters of the global economy see nothing odd or difficult about unlimited economic growth or unlimited consumption in a limited world."
Wendell Berry


digitalfutur
Sees More Than Shown
Premium
join:2000-07-15
BurlingtonON
kudos:2
The main reason why American startups are more successful is that they have much better access to venture capital, and investors there are not as conservative as they are here. It's a trade-off, less pronounced peaks and valleys in the economic cycle here than in the U.S., but less innovation as well. Or more accurately, greater dependence on American innovation.

Plus, when you have the population of Canada in an area half the size of Ontario, plus a much warmer climate (literally and figuratively), there's already wind in your sails.

The other problem is that until the FTA in 1989, economic "policy" in Canada was used as a blunt instrument to keep the ruling political party in power, no matter what the cost to the regions not supportive of the political party in power.

Instead of lamenting what can't do so well, best to focus on what we can do well. As Apple is going to discover very shortly, once tech products become commoditized, they are essentially worthless to investors.
--
Logic requires one to deal with decisions that one's ego will not permit.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke.


Wolfie00
My dog is an elitist
Premium
join:2005-03-12
kudos:8
said by digitalfutur:

The main reason why American startups are more successful is that they have much better access to venture capital, and investors there are not as conservative as they are here.

That is a true statement, except that when it comes to high-tech companies, the environmental factors -- the "critical mass of technology" culture I was referring to -- is absolutely critical in providing the initial knowledge and inspiration and the ability to recruit talent. To deny that is to deny the real genesis of so many innovative companies, and it's not just Apple -- Google, Adobe, 3Com, even Microsoft, all share much the same origins. There are thousands of them in Silicon Valley.

I also disagree with the rather defeatist "instead of lamenting what we can't do so well..." as we have a history of doing science and technology very well indeed, given even half a chance. What we do well -- what any nation does well -- is as much the result of opportunity as anything else, and opportunities can be created. We don't need to depend on them to happen by accident or the necessity of crisis.
--
"The promoters of the global economy see nothing odd or difficult about unlimited economic growth or unlimited consumption in a limited world."
Wendell Berry


Devanchya
Smile
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Ajax, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to upsidedown
Wow that is such a one sided argument I don't know where to start.

Canadians have a lot of Tech Sector people, we just may not have a a "100% Canadian Made Solution", because no one does anymore.

And before you point at the US, think again, the Tech Sector is global... nothing is made in just one country...
--
»www.codecipher.com - Marking the way to tomorrow's solutions -- Did you know that Perl is not Dead? »perlisalive.org/


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
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Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

Matrox sure dropped off the face of the Earth after the G400, though.

Yea, cause their products were crap. They shifted their focus from the 2D desktop market to the video editing market and when they did that, they'd put out a collection of software that was into its prime concerning Adobe Premiere then 4 months later when the new Adobe Premiere comes out, they're not quite ready... and if you happen to stray from the beaten path, get ready for bugs, crashing, etc. Heck, even using the product stock it was a quirky beast that wasn't reliable in the professional sense.

When multimonitor became popular again and ATI's FireMV line became popular, where was Matrox?

Although we could be wrong, they're regularly selling products you and I think are unpopular and perhaps their profits are high and they're trucking along quite well... I don't think they're a publicly traded company.


elwoodblues
Elwood Blues
Premium
join:2006-08-30
Somewhere in
kudos:2
reply to upsidedown
Matrox is still around, it looks like they've just moved away from the commodity market of video cards.

They seem to selling alot more "value added products" like thunderbolt docks, kvm's and x264 encoders.


elwoodblues
Elwood Blues
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Somewhere in
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Reviews:
·VMedia
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

ATI didn't really get run into the ground, they just got bought.

Well there were some shady activities going on.. but yeah AMD bought them up (needed a GPU solution to compete with Intel)the ATI name has now disappeared and it's AMD video cards now.
--
No, I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake.......


Guspaz
Guspaz
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-05
Montreal, QC
kudos:23
reply to upsidedown
Matrox was still in on the multimonitor thing. I remember when I worked for Matrox, walking to the cafeteria for lunch, you'd pass by a giant wall of monitors. I didn't count how many it was, but it was dozens of monitors all being run off a single computer. They also had the dualhead2go and triplehead2go stuff, which was the only way to get multi-monitor output from an iGPU consumer laptop at full performance until very recently (IvyBridge finally added support for three monitors). Even today, it's a good way to multiply the maximum number of monitors supported by a computer. Some GPUs from AMD support six displays, but with two triplehead2go, you can get 6 external displays on a modern laptop. That's a pretty niche application, though.

Personally, I think the downfall of Matrox was the Parhelia. The G400 was their last popular and successful card, and the Parhelia took too long to come out (the G400 was three years old by the time it did), and when it finally came out it was the laughingstock of the GPU market. The design was so terrible that it performed like graphics cards that cost half as much, and then a few months later the Radeon 9700 came out at the same price as the Parhelia which just crushed it (basically it had a two generation performance advantage at the same price).
--
Developer: Tomato/MLPPP, Linux/MLPPP, etc »fixppp.org


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
Yeah, Parhelia sealed their fate in the consumer graphics market.


My2Cents

@start.ca
reply to Devanchya
said by Devanchya:

Wow that is such a one sided argument I don't know where to start.

Canadians have a lot of Tech Sector people, we just may not have a a "100% Canadian Made Solution", because no one does anymore.

And before you point at the US, think again, the Tech Sector is global... nothing is made in just one country...

Start by giving concrete examples? "Canadians have a lot of Tech Sector people" is hardly a good example. Its true that nothing is made in just one country anymore, but America has MS and Google, which is two more software giants than what we have. Personally, I cant think of a single Canadian tech company other than RIM that's globally recognized.


J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
reply to upsidedown
Canada will always be limited because of our tiny population. We're 11% of the US, 2% of the Chinese, list goes on.

But we still have a lot of tech sectors. However, many are BORING. Many of the BORING ones have nothing to do with you and I for the most part. Open Text in this area continues to grow, but I doubt anyone really know what they do, even for some who work there. (they'll say banking software). QNX (now own by RIM) is, and will be, and will continue to be, used to cars, especially high end ones. Desire2Learn is also one of the worlds leading companies with their education software, and Christie Digital (projectors and 3D printers) are pretty much at the top. I only mentioned 4 companies, all on top, all in Kitchener-Waterloo, ONLY.

Canada has enough tech companies, but for the average Joe, when we think Canada, we think Avro, RIM and Nortel. But we have so much more than that. We just don't alway know, or are aware, of what else we have.

Did you know that the 2008 Chinese Olympics purchased all of their digital visual equipment, made in Kitchener? Or that the Nasdaq also did the same?

It's there...we're just uneducated.

Not only that, places like Markham, Ottawa and Kitchener are attracting a lot of foreign companies to set up shop in. Markham for example has Apple and Kitchener has Google.

Can we do more?

Yes.

Will we do more?

Yes.

Will we have success?

Yes.

Will we have massive failures after success?

Yes.

Will we recover?

Yes.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
reply to upsidedown
It's fucking cold here.


milnoc

join:2001-03-05
H3B
kudos:2
That just means a better opportunity for superconductivity.

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
reply to digitalfutur
said by digitalfutur:

The main reason why American startups are more successful is that they have much better access to venture capital, and investors there are not as conservative as they are here. It's a trade-off, less pronounced peaks and valleys in the economic cycle here than in the U.S., but less innovation as well. Or more accurately, greater dependence on American innovation.

Plus, when you have the population of Canada in an area half the size of Ontario, plus a much warmer climate (literally and figuratively), there's already wind in your sails.

I don't think this is new.

You can go back to Bat Masterson and Mack Sennett to find examples of Canadians who moved to the states and didn't look back.

More recently, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, so many others.

This applies to engineers, scientists, and other academics as well.

The migration is overwhelmingly southward, not northward, even allowing for the 10-fold population difference.

BTW, Canada was well represented in Nobel prizes in the hard sciences between 1981 and 1994, but after 1994 only 2 winners (2009 and 2011).

As an outsider I may say a couple of politically incorrect things.

1) Without demeaning the other fine Canadian universities, Canada could use another couple of McGills.

2) In the 1860's the US provided funding for colleges under the Morrill Land-Grant Act. This led to the establishment or the expansion of Cornell, MIT, the University of California, Michigan State, Purdue, Rutgers, Ohio State, and many others.

This paid off handsomely for the US.

Where and when did the Federal government of Canada look to similarly support their national/research universities?

3) With the way the world is these days, Canada might have greatly benefited from having a whole big province whose language AND culture was based on Spain or Japan or China. But having a whole big province based on the language and culture of France, is not a big help in the world today.

3a) The Quebec language barrier means that what businesses remain in Quebec are isolated from the rest of Canada and from the world. But more important, the Francophone universities are even more isolated from the rest of Canada and from the world.

3b) Here is objective fact. The Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth) is more successful than ever. By total contrast, when France tried to do the same thing (the French Community) it was a flop, and it was terminated some years ago with no one even noticing....



Thingamajig
Premium
join:2004-11-03
B.C.
reply to upsidedown
Wait until we release the bionic man. We'll crush those other countries! muah-ha-ha-ha!

Canadian soldiers may be moving closer to becoming a much-scaled down version of the TV character Col. Steve Austin if technology being funded by the Defence Department and U.S. government delivers as promised.

»www.ottawacitizen.com/technology ··· ory.html
--
Some hero's wear capes, mine wear combat boots.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to J E F F
said by J E F F:

But we still have a lot of tech sectors. However, many are BORING. Many of the BORING ones have nothing to do with you and I for the most part.

Very true. We have a company in this city with 600 employees world-wide who are global leaders in mining equipment technology. They also own some interesting environmental technology patents which enable 100% recovery and recycling of aerosol cans and paints. They are literally "boring", but they are also expanding and innovating.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


Bender2000
Bite My Shiny Metal Ass
Premium
join:2002-05-06
Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, QC
reply to upsidedown
didn't Canada invent the UAV?


ekster
Hi there
Premium
join:2010-07-16
Lachine, QC
kudos:3
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine
reply to DKS
They aren't all boring, but a lot also have a tendency to stay out of the spotlight, or just not getting credit.

I can't think of a single huge space mission that did not involve Canada in a long while. The famous Apollo missions? Canada was there. The famous space station? Canada was there. Even the recent Mars mission? Again. Canada was there.

Our scientists are doing a lot. They just rarely get the credit they deserve.

The other problem is that while we do have companies, and people, who are amazing at it and are doing a lot more than people think, the final projects for which they end up working for aren't Canadian, so we get zero credit for it at the end. Had our governments been more open to this, rather than sticking to raw materials, we could easily be up there with the US, Japan, etc. but cutting trees and digging for oil is so much easier and with a lot less risk... so we'll just keep being known as lumberjacks while our scientists and our companies continue to do R&D work for other countries, who will get all the credit.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to Bender2000
said by Bender2000:

didn't Canada invent the UAV?

Not really. Canadair had a project concurrent with the United States.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
reply to ekster
No, they're not boring to the people involved with it. But as DKS See Profile was talking about a technology patent that enable 100% recovery and recycling of aerosol and can and paint, don't exactly make headlines around the world, nor are they watercooler talk.

I remember for years (and even today) CNN anchors talking about their BlackBerries. It was something people wanted, and eventually, they could get.

One of the other companies here, as I mentioned earlier, is Christie Digital, and most likely many have not heard of them, although likely they have felt their affects if they go to the movies at all. However, if they start making systems for peoples home, and become the leading source to go to for home theatres, then they might become a household name...
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein

Sukunai
Premium
join:2008-05-07
kudos:1
Reviews:
·ELECTRONICBOX

1 recommendation

reply to upsidedown
If tomorrow the power were to go off and never come back on, well we are doing fine.

When I think of Canada, I don't think electronics.

That's just junk you waste you money on.

I think of Canada as trees, minerals, water, trees, did I mention trees, and a lot of spare space that seems to not matter much to anyone.

I'm glad the country has so much water, it doesn't even seem to care about how badly wasted it is or so many trees we seem indifferent to how they get used or other resources that seem to have no limits.

Because if tomorrow the power were to go off, the names of the corporations that claim to own everything, likely would be worth about the same as used toilet paper.

The aborigines have it right, little point in arguing over who owns the dog.

And my life is already over loaded with cluttersome tech. Not sure I even care who makes the next must have doodad.


nonBell

@steadfastdns.net
reply to elwoodblues
said by elwoodblues:

Matrox is still around, it looks like they've just moved away from the commodity market of video cards.

They seem to selling alot more "value added products" like thunderbolt docks, kvm's and x264 encoders.

Perhaps Matrox is simply returning to its former focus? I worked there when its graphics cards were not sold retails, but built into some 3rd party equipment.

While I don't really know what it does now, it must be doing pretty well as one of its co-owners has been donating millions to McGill...


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
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Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to upsidedown
Speaking of Canada's tech sector heading straight to the ground, here's a CBC article from a few days ago regarding 10 tech companies to watch for, for 2013: »www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story ··· ist.html


fourboxers
Plate Spinner
join:2003-05-04
Toronto, ON
reply to upsidedown

(topic move) Canada's Tech Sector, straight into the ground.

Moderator Action
The post that was here (and all 4 followups to it), have been removed.


upsidedown

@utoronto.ca
reply to urbanriot

Re: Canada's Tech Sector, straight into the ground.

said by urbanriot:

Speaking of Canada's tech sector heading straight to the ground, here's a CBC article from a few days ago regarding 10 tech companies to watch for, for 2013: »www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story ··· ist.html

Given its a CBC article, its obviously going to be biased. However, I haven't heard of any of these companies and I have a gut feeling that none of them will become a household name.

R&D in Canada? I can perhaps understand the reluctance to support high tech development, but the lack of support for medical sciences is appalling.

I am a researcher at the UofT, and quite frankly, there is a common sentiment among the PhDs and Postdocs from the US and the EU that Canada doesnt place any value in R&D. Most labs here still use archaic methodology (low throughput, but cheap), with ancient equipment and there is no funding to get anything done. Many of the foreign researchers have voiced their extreme displeasure in "being dooped" by the University. Since the UofT boasts itself as a world class research institution, attract foreign talent just to have them work on projects with minimal funding and obsolete equipment. Not to mention the fact that profs here have to basically beg for 100k in funding.

As a foreign researcher, I find this disturbing. When Canada advertises itself as a "World Leader" in any field, it should have the goods to back it up. For a country with some of the highest percent of post secondary education, not a whole lot is being done.

This leads back to my original observation, not a whole lot of significant development in the Tech sector. Sure there are projectors and an aerospace part here and there, the lack of global recognition is... interesting. How much longer can Canada live off of its natural resources? I personally wont stick around to find out.
Expand your moderator at work


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
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Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to upsidedown

Re: Canada's Tech Sector, straight into the ground.

said by upsidedown :

I am a researcher at the UofT

Ahhh, that's the issue at hand then, U of T researchers aren't doing so well compared to the rest of Canada. Here's something from Queen's University...

And since CBC is biased towards companies that upsidedown has never heard of, here's some tech news from another source concerning 'one exciting consumer gadget at CES 2013' - PaperTab: A Tablet As Flexible As Paper - »www.ibtimes.com/papertab-tablet- ··· -1004922