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From Silicon Valley to Southeast Asia: Why Tech Giants Pour Billions into This Region?

From Silicon Valley to Southeast Asia: Why Tech Giants Pour Billions into This Region?

The CEOs of major technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia have recently visited Southeast Asia, investing billions of dollars and meeting with several heads of state in the region. Apple's Tim Cook and Microsoft's Satya Nadella, for example, pledged significant investments during their recent tours. This development will make the region a key competitive hub for major companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the fields of artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Once considered a peripheral region in technology development, the region has now become a center of gravity for the technology industry after decades of being overshadowed by China and Japan. 

The world's largest companies plan to spend as much as $60 billion on data centers alone over the next few years, driven by a young population's enthusiasm for streaming video, online shopping, and generative artificial intelligence.

The region shines even brighter as China gets tougher on U.S. companies and India is politically difficult to navigate. According to Sean Lim of Singapore's NWD Holdings, countries like Singapore and Malaysia tend to remain neutral in global geopolitical tensions, making the region even more attractive to investors.

The region's growing workforce also makes it an attractive alternative as a global talent hub. In addition, government support for education and infrastructure has made it a key location for activities ranging from manufacturing to research and design.

Southeast Asia also represents a huge market for electronics and online services. Some 65% of the population is expected to join the middle class by 2030, expanding the market for Internet services to $600 billion. 

Apple, whose products were considered expensive by most in the region, is opening stores and announcing new investments. CEO Tim Cook visited Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore in late April to explore growth opportunities outside China.

Southeast Asia is also becoming increasingly attractive as Silicon Valley experiences a slowdown, particularly in the growth of artificial intelligence, which is seen as a driving force for future industries. Two major AI events in Singapore in the near future will feature leaders from OpenAI, Anthropic, Microsoft and others to highlight the potential of this technology in the region.

Popular services like ChatGPT and the rapid adoption of AI in Southeast Asia could potentially add $1 trillion to the region's economy by 2030, according to a report by Kearney. Demand for data centers in Southeast Asia and North Asia is expected to grow 25% annually through 2028, making Southeast Asia the world's second-largest source of data center revenue by that year.

Despite this, there are still concerns about navigating local work cultures and currency volatility. However, major technology companies are benefiting from the relatively low cost of skilled labor in Southeast Asia. Many U.S. companies have announced training programs in partnership with local governments, including Microsoft's commitment to train 2.5 million people in AI skills in the region by 2025.

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