What Detroit could learn from Silicon Valley

The U.S. automobile industry needs to learn to be competitive again, and not simply for government handouts.

Ever wonder what the American automobile industry would be like if it actually made good cars? ZDNet takes it a step further to speculate as to what GM would look like under Steve Jobs' guidance, speculation that is worth further discussion.

No one is suggesting that Steve Jobs has any interest in reforming GM and the U.S. automobile industry, but don't you wish he would? Or for the Microsofties among you, how about Steve Ballmer? Or Marc Benioff? Or anyone from the technology industry?

In technology, we don't have the benefit (and problem) of years of government subsidies, regulations, and unionization. If we don't deliver compelling products, we die .

Today politicians are trying to funnel mountains of cash to the domestic auto industry, conveniently overlooking the other U.S. automobile industry run by Honda, Toyota, and others that employs more than 100,000 people and makes much better cars. For what? To perpetuate its utter incompetence and pander to union votes. It's shameless and, frankly, shameful.

I don't blame Democrats or Republicans for this--both have their pet bailouts. But until the U.S. automobile industry learns how to innovate and make good products again, we should let it struggle to compete. Maybe Detroit will die and those jobs will move to the Honda factories elsewhere. Is that a bad thing?

The U.S. automobile industry could learn a thing or two from the technology industry, like how to compete without expecting a handout.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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