The idea for this week's cover story on software companies came from a 2003 Statesman story headlined, "Hardware companies far outpace software in Idaho."
A survey then by accounting firm KPMG for the Statesman showed the five biggest hardware companies in Idaho employed 13,000 workers, compared with 450 for the five biggest software makers. Micron was bigger then, still making memory chips in Boise. Hewlett-Packard hadn't yet downsized. Nampa had MPC Computers, now gone.
The local hardware sector has changed. Software has, too. Boise's Extended Systems, whose applications connected workers in the field to company computers, was sold in 2005 to Sybase Inc., later bought by SAP, a German enterprise-software company. ProClarity, which made data-analysis software, was bought by Microsoft in 2006 and renamed Microsoft Boise. It lasted a few years, then closed.
As Kris Rodine's article reports, Idaho has trailed almost every other state for the past five years in high-tech employment growth rates.
But hopes of making Boise a tech mecca endure, fostered by the Idaho Technology Council and software entrepreneurs. They're encouraging Idaho students to become software developers and Idaho universities to train them. They're making arguments for out-of-state software makers to come here.
I hope you'll read Rodine's story and let us know what you think.