Worldwide fascination and hoopla surround American high-tech companies–see Facebook, Apple and Google, especially. Even as it becomes common to think Asia will dominate this economic century, short shrift is given in Western media to the Asian enterprises that might bring that about.
Few seem to draw much global notice. The largest Chinese corporations are state-owned and not too welcoming of coverage. China’s software and hardware leaders in technology, with the notable exception of Lenovo and perhaps Alibaba, are difficult for outsiders to get to know. To do so, you often need to travel, as it were, through Taiwan.
Meantime, Japan’s great electronics champions appear to have lost their stride, and its once preeminent automakers are only now recovering theirs. A renewal of Japanese greatness, most believe, is a ways off. Yet standout performance does abound in the region–one need only see our Fabulous 50 companies list each fall. Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor are huge entities that may not meet Forbes criteria for sales and profit growth–in part because they are so big already or are spending so much on innovation–but are world-beaters nonetheless.
Lots of factors account for such sustained Korean achievement: a hardworking culture, engineering prowess, customer focus … and not a little assistance from government policy along the way. But they add up to why, however little buzz they may generate, Asia is stocked with enterprises every bit as noteworthy as what’s in the limelight of Silicon Valley.
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