Walt Mossberg: I'm amazed how Israel has changed

The "Wall Street Journal" columnist told the Israel Business Conference that the cellular age was in its infancy.

"I see Israel as a technology country. This is my first visit here in 32 years, and I'm amazed how everything has changed. That such a small country has such a large presence in key industries is amazing," said "Wall Street Journal" technology columnist Walt Mossberg at the "Range of opportunities in the Internet and media" panel at the "Globes" Israel Business Conference yesterday.

Mossberg added, "We're in a very special period of technological change. The way we use technology affects the media industry. This year, we're celebrating the 30th anniversary of the personal computer, and the Internet era continues to expand."

Mossberg said that the cellular revolution was in its infancy. "The iPhone already enables cellular surfing. Naturally, there were some compromises en route, but the birth of the pocket computer was the turning point. In the next two years, we'll see more and more people keeping their documents online and not in the actual computer. In this way, no matter where you go, you'll have access to your documents."

In response to panel chairman Dr. Yossi Vardi request to summarize the Internet industry leaders, Mossberg said, "Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is a genius and a very tough businessman. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is both tough and a genius in some ways. Former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel is very smart, but found it hard to run an Internet company. As for AOL founder Steve Case, the name America Online says it all. Google is a brilliant company. They're trying to break the cellular companies' monopoly. There is concern that they're trying to do too many things, and they have a somewhat arrogant culture."

Commenting on Rupert Murdoch, the new owner of the "Wall Street Journal", Mossberg said, "He is a perfect man, a god. Seriously, however, he is a very smart man, and is very excited to be the owner of our newspaper."

As for "The New York Times", Mossberg said, "It is a great journalist enterprise. I read the paper every day. It faces the same challenges faced by every large media enterprise. The "Washington Post" faces the same dilemma. It is one of the few newspapers that dares to criticize the administration and be independent. Like the others, it too faces economic problems."

Mossberg says that he has no problems with bloggers. "Like everything, some bloggers have no ethics and others do."

Mossberg said, "Nokia's operating system is awful compared with the iPhone. The company must get better and intensify its efforts."

Mossberg concluded, "In ten years, I believe that most readers will be online. I assume that's already true for my readers. I hope that our paper will be in good shape."

Other panelists included Google managing director Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Mohammad Gawdat, and News Corporation executive VP and News Corporation Europe chairman VP Martin Pompadur.

Gawdat said, "I'm very excited to be here. I'm from Egypt, and it's exciting for me to speak before an Israeli audience." He added that the Internet revolution was just getting started. "The number will only go up, and the technology will only improve. In emerging market, only 11% of the population - 162 million people - is online. This proportion will rise to 40%. There is also room for Israeli Internet market to grow," he said.

Gawdat said, "There are four categories of developing markets. Israel is an amazing country, and is in the first category."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 11, 2007

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2007

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