"It can't happen to me!"
So thinketh Silicon Valley. Wrong, it can.
This article is absolutely bang on. However, there's one aspect that hasn't been emphasised enough, and that's complacency on the part of the West.
There's a striking parallel between what China is doing to the Western IT industry and what Japan did to the West's automotive industry in the 1960s. Consider this:
Once upon a time, there was a country called Britain that led the world in motorcycle manufacture. They'd taken a bit of beating during the second world war, but by the mid 1950s, some outstanding machines were being produced by British manufacturers. The Vincent Black Shadow, Manx Norton, BSA Gold Star, Velocette Venom, Royal Enfield Constellation and Triumph Bonneville were iconic machines that were known the world over. Some consolidation took place - BSA gobbled up Triumph and Ariel, AJS and Matchless merged to form AMC - and a few, like Vincent, fell by the wayside. Overall, the picture was quite rosy - British bikes dominated racing, worldwide sales were brisk and generally the industry's future seemed assured. After all, British bikes were the best in the world, weren't they?
Well now. Towards the end of the 1950s, British motorcycle execs were amused to see crowds of earnest-looking Japanese examining their machines at race events and exhibitions. Doubtless there was some condescending laughter about the hordes of little yellow men taking thousands of photographs of their machines and jabbering away in their idiot tongues. Good to see that the nips appreciate real engineering, old boy, what what? Another pink gin? Don't mind if I do.
Fast forward about twenty years and it had gone horribly wrong. By the end of the 1970s, only Triumph was left, desperately clinging on to a tiny market share. The once-dominant British motorcycle industry had been swept away by the Japanese invasion of bikes that had the phenomenal cheek to be reliable, easy to start, not need loads of maintenance, and have such fripperies as indicators, weather protection and electric starting. The bikes at the lower end of the market - the small 125s and the Honda and Yamaha step-throughs - made the likes of the BSA Bantam and Triumph Tiger Cub look positively antiquated. And once a new rider had bought one Honda or Yamaha, they were more likely to buy another one.
Further up the scale, the British bikes held out for a while, but once the Oriental heavy metal appeared, they too started vibrating their way down the slope, which was doubtless made more slippery by the oil pissing out through the joins in their vertically-split crankcases. Nicknames like Bloody Sore Arse and Royal Oilfield weren't bestowed without reason.
Certainly, the Japanese didn't beat the incumbents on every front at once. British bikes - at least the bigger ones - could still dish out handling lessons to the rice rockets well into the 1980s. I have a fond memory of being able to out-handle mid-range Japanese machines on my elderly BSA A65 during burn-ups on twisty roads. And they made mistakes too - the first Honda CB450 had a reputation for evil handling that was only surpassed by the Kawasaki Mach III - the notorious gas-guzzling 500cc two-stroke triple that you could keep going for ever from a breaker's, provided you didn't need a new front end.
But the Japanese learnt from their mistakes. Things like reliable electrics, oil-tight engines, indicators, electric starting and sensible maintenance regimes set owners' expectations accordingly. In 1960, crappy electrics, magnetos that conked out in the rain, batteries being boiled by iffy Zener diodes and leaking oil was pretty much par for the course. By 1980, a new rider would regard that sort of crap as completely unacceptable.
But the thing is that the Japanese would not have had such an easy time of it if it had not been for complacency on the part of the British firms. First there was a refusal to accept that the piddly little Japanese bikes were a real threat to Real Men's bikes. Instead of realising what might happen to customer loyalty - and the BSA group put a lot of effort into securing that, so there's no excuse for the execs of the time not to have understood the threat - they bumbled along by tarting up what were basically pre-war designs while their customer base became slowly eroded. When they finally realised the threat, it was far too late - the Japanese had learnt while the British gazed at their navels, and customer expectations had risen to a point where the British machines were found wanting in too many areas. The car and consumer goods markets weren't far behind the bikes.
A degree of patriotism did help. In the UK, Triumph survived - just - and Harley-Davidson managed to keep going in the US. But the mass market had vanished like snow in the sunshine, destroyed by a combination of a better offering and the stupidity of executives who could not see a threat until it was too late.
That's what happened to British automotive engineering dominance. And that's what's going to happen to American IT dominance in the next few years - and for almost exactly the same reasons.
As the gravestone's gone, the bomb will have to do.