Ever since the crash following the dotcom boom, pundits in Northern California have been speculating about what industry would replace chips, software, and Internet services in Silicon Valley. The question is more than a matter of civic boosterism: the south San Francisco Bay area is home to an educational, financial, and entrepreneurial ecosystem that for the past seven decades has midwifed some of the most important technological innovations in recent human history. The very idea that so much cash, talent, and vision would lay fallow seemed inconceivable, yet the much-vaunted bio-tech and green-tech booms seem to be stalled on the cusp of takeoff.
Then, in the middle of a Twitter deep-dive with with Paul Denlinger about the warming battle between Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) to dominate the handheld computing space, it became clear. Over the past 18 months, the focal point of the mobile phone industry has moved from Espoo, Finland to a point equidistant between the GooglePlex in Mountain View and Apple's Infinite Loop compound in Cupertino.
In racing to own the future of the mobile Internet, these two giants may well make Silicon Valley the center of an industry that takes the Internet out of computer and puts it into our lives, that meshes communications, information, and entertainment into a single contiguous experience.
You can bet on Silicon Valley going greentech, and that might happen. My money is on Silicon Valley going handheld, at least in the coming 30 months.