April 14, 2011, 7:43 AM — WASHINGTON -- The U.S. imagines itself as the world's leader in technology, and for good reason. American tech dominates many world markets.
Yet just about every report that looks at where America is and where it is going sees this nation in decline or at risk of it.
It is a theme that's been picked up by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who won a Nobel Prize in physics. Both have warned recently that the nation is facing a "Sputnik moment," with a shrinking share of the world's technology export market.
This view also arises as the U.S. continues to lead the world in new tech directions, such as cloud computing. U.S. tech firms are building highly energy efficient data centers at shopping mall-sized scale to serve global customers.
Even India's rise as a technology center would not be possible without the U.S. India's big offshore companies continue to earn more than 50% of their revenue from North America. If it wasn't for Apple , China wouldn't be manufacturing iPhones and iPads .
So what's up with the World Economic Forum, which this week ranked Sweden as the number one country in its annual Global Information Technology Report? Did the report's authors mistake Ikea for IBM?
The U.S. placed fifth for the second consecutive in the forum's annual report -- behind Singapore, Finland and Switzerland.
The report maintains that "there is no area on the globe that has an inherent advantage" in the digital economy. The rankings are based on those countries it believes are making the best use of new technologies and high-speed networks, while it measures PCs per population, mobile devices with data access, political environment, and so on.