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Chinese Attack Threatens Portable-Navigation Industry

The news that the Chinese have successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon increases the possibility (albeit a very remote one) that a military conflict would bring down the portable-navigation industry.

While companies are free to develop GPS products, the satellites themselves are owned by the government. They are first and foremost an instrument of American military power. In the event of a military conflict with China, those satellites would presumably be among the first to be targeted — to deny the United States the ability to use GPS-guided precision munitions. For consumers, a war would mean no location-based cellular services and no workable navigation units.

Of course, if a war broke out with China we’d have a lot more to worry about than getting lost. Just from a parochial CE-industry standpoint, the amount of CE manufacturing capability that would be taken off-line in China and Taiwan (the presumptive flash-point) would be enormous. (Remember SARS?) If the conflict engulfed Japan … forget about it.

Lots of analysts look at that and conclude that obvious economic self-interest would rule out the possibility of war. Me, I’m not so sure.