Hi-tech shock for old order

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 1999, 12:00am

FOR all you crusty technophobes out there, let this stand as a warning: Vodafone, the British mobile telephone company, is bigger than British Telecom, the dominant fixed-line carrier, when measured by market capitalisation. Or at least it will be, assuming the takeover of AirTouch goes through.

This should come as no surprise really.

After all, think of those stodgy publishers who peered down from their lofty piles at the Internet-based trading companies scurrying beneath them. They thought, in their arrogance, they could just sit back and wait for the high-tech start-ups to do all the hard work and then scoop them up when the time was right.

And what happened? Before they knew it, the most successful start-ups were bigger than them.

Technology is fuelling the kind of seismic changes in the way the world does business experienced during the industrial revolution, or even the agricultural revolution before it.

Just as in those days, the established structure will give way to a new order as it fails hopelessly to stay in the game.

Farewell noble peasantry, adios aristocracy, adieu antiquated industry. Off with their heads!