Doom and gloom in the computer industry is usually a troubling sign for the economy as a whole, but if you’re on the market for new hardware this fall it could translate into some pretty big savings for you! According to the Associated Press Intel has lowered its third quarter forecast in response to weaker than expect chip sales, a key indicator for the rest of the PC industry. This was further re-enforced with shaky forecasts from both Hewlett-Packard and Dell who claim the back to school buying season is off to an abnormally slow start.
Falling component prices and continually rising stockpiles of computer hardware are combining to create a buyers’ market in the coming months, but let’s just hope it isn’t a prelude to another full blown recession. Intel is still forecasting revenues of anywhere from $10.8 billion to $11.2 billion mind you, so it can’t be all that bad.
Recession? What recession? There's no such thing in the cell phone industry, at least not anymore, says iSuppli. The market research firm proclaimed the end of the cell phone recession after the industry closed out 2009 with a bang.
Cell phones ended 2009 with shipments of 1.15 billion units. That's slightly down from the 1.2 billion units shipped in 2008, but it's the fourth quarter performance that has iSuppli gushing over the cell phone market. Mobile handset shipments reached 335 million in the final quarter of 2009, up 15.5 percent from the 290 million shipped in the previous quarter.
"Given the recovery of the market in the final quarter of 2009, and with Europe, Latin America and the Middle East/Africa regions doing exceptionally well during the period, the recession can be said to be officially over for the cell phone industry," said Tina Teng, senior analyst for wireless systems at iSuppli. "The continued growth this year of total handsets - up a projected 11.3 percent to 1.3 billion units - further bolsters such a view."
The future looks equally bright, says iSuppli, which projects that smartphones will see growth of 35.5 percent in 2010. This will be helped by the introduction of entry-level handsets and 3G network expansion expected to take place this year.
After almost a year of straight declines, video game hardware and software sales are finally on the way up according to market research group NPD. Total game sales climbed by 6 percent from the same month a year earlier to $1.52 billion helped in large part by big console releases such as God of War 3, Final Fantasy XIII, and Battlefield Bad Company 2.
The industry overall was predicting a slight pickup in March, but estimates pegged it at a slightly more conservative 3 percent said Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich. Overall the industry is still down considerably since the start of the recession having shed almost 7 percent during that period, but any improvement is a positive signal.
Activision Blizzard who didn't have any major releases in the first quarter are also predicting a bump in revenues based on continuing strong demand for World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
In a report issued earlier this week, market research firm IDC said it expects worldwide IT spending to grow by 3 percent in 2010, fueled in large part by emerging markets like China and India.
"Despite pent-up demand for upgrades and new applications following the deep spending cuts of the past year, economic uncertainty will combine with capital and credit constraints to inhibit spending in mature economies," IDC analyst Stephen Minton said.
IDC predicts global IT spending will hit $1.48 trillion by the end of the year, which is a good chunk less than what Gartner is expecting. According to Gartner, spending will grow by 4.6 percent, to $3.4 trillion.
Surprise, surprise, outsourced IT jobs continue to thrive in India, while it's slim pickings for IT admins looking for employment in the U.S..
Wipro, Infosys Technologies, and Tata Consultancy, which are three of India's largest IT services firms, took on a combined 16,700 new workers in the last quarter alone, bringing the total workforce for all three companies to 359,000 strong.
Growth in the U.S. hasn't been quite as robust. According to the TechServe Alliance, an industry group which tracks U.S. monthly labor IT-related occupational data, the U.S. IT workforce dropped from 4 million in November 2008 to 3.81 million in September 2009, with about 11,000 jobs added between then and the end of last month.
From a dollars standpoint, the total market value of outsourcing contracts reached $24.7 billion for the most recent quarter, the best it's been in six quarters, and representing a sequential increase of 47 percent.
It looks like Intel really killed it in the fourth quarter of 2009, with revenue up about 28% year over year to $10.6 billion. These numbers are after the $1.25 billion settlement paid to rival AMD. Sales were so good, in fact, that Intel is proclaiming the return of consumer demand. ” We have seen a return of consumer demand and replenishment to normal inventory levels after the precipitous demand drop at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009,” said Intel CFO Stacy Smith.
Intel is predicting continued momentum going into 2010. They are expecting revenue of about $9.7 billion this quarter. That’s nearly as much as the Q4 holiday shopping season. Wall Street’s own estimate is quite close at $9.35 billion.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini talked up Intel’s plans for 2010 in a call with analysts. He stressed the value of Nehalem and was looking forward to the introduction of the new 32nm process technology. He also held that Intel’s Atom processors would continue to dominate the low end of the market.
We suppose when your bread and butter is $35 optical drives, a faltering economy doesn't hit you as hard. Or so it would seem, based on Lite-On's performance in 2009.
The optical drive maker reported consolidated revenues up 2 percent sequentially and 32 percent on year to $303.1 million in December 2009. Ending the year on a high note, that was a best month for Lite-On in '09.
But it wasn't just low-priced optical drives that drove revenue up. The company also attributed the growth to increasing shipments of power supply and LED products, noting that the two segments grew 20 percent and 67 percent on year, respectively, in December.
The future looks bright for the wireless LAN industry, which is on pace to reach record revenue by the end of the third quarter, says market research firm Dell'Oro Group.
The WLAN market wasn't hit as hard as other businesses in the recession, which took a particular toll in September, but was still affected enough to see lower sales in the first and second quarter of 2009. Before the economic downturn, revenue climbed to record levels in the fourth quarter of last year, and it appears the WLAN industry is finally picking up where it left off. Worldwide revenue for WLAN equipment recovered to $1.1 billion in the third quarter of this year, up about 12 percent from the second quarter, and came close to matching the $1.14 billion of the previous year's third quarter.
Analysts attributed the upswing to stimulus money granted by the U.S. goverment, for which vendors claimed have driven deals. Market researchers also point to the growth of IEEE 802.11n and the boost it has gotten from being standardized.
Forget about dealing with pushy crowds and getting up in the wee morning hours during a holiday vacation only to have to wait in line for that one item everyone else is after as well. According to comScore, an increasing number of consumers opted to plant their rumps on the couch or home office chair and shop the Black Friday deals online rather than venture out into the real world.
For the holiday season to date, some $10.57 billion has been spent online, which is 3 percent more than the same time period one year ago. And on Black Friday, consumers spent $595 million online, marking an 11 percent increase over last year. That also ranks as the second heaviest online spending day so far in 2009.
"Black Friday, better known as a shopping bonanza in brick-and-mortar retail stores, is increasingly becoming one of the landmark days in the online holiday shopping world," said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. "The $595 million in online spending this Black Friday represents the second heaviest online spending day of the season-to-date and a double-digit increase from last year. While this acceleration in spending suggests the online holiday season may be shaping up slightly more optimistically than anticipated, it may also reflect the heavy discounting and creative promotions being put forth by retailers that now encompass the use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter."
Fulgoni went on to say that Cyber Monday (today) and subsequent weeks will provide the real measuring stick for how online retailers fare this season, but that they're off to a great start.
Some CIOs worry that underpaid IT pros may be a flight risk once the economy rebounds. That's because IT workers have been asked to work more for less money, while also watching their benefits be taken away, and that's not something they'll soon forget once job opportunities open up elsewhere, suggests a new survey.
Robert Half Technologies pinged 1,400 CIOs and found that 43 percent of them plan to make retaining existing workers their top staffing priority in 2010.
"Employers need to focus on preventing burnout and keeping their best people engaged at work. This may be a challenge, given that staffing cuts and the reduction or elimination of benefits have left many employees feeling overworked and undervalued," said Dave Willmer, executive director at Robert Half Technology, in a statement.
But it's not all gloom and doom for CIOs. To prevent a mass exodus among IT staff, Robert Half Technology suggests that IT employers begin implementing training and career development programs. The firm also recommends communicating regularly with staff and encouraging team-building activities that promote a balance between work and life.
"Companies may have to work at 're-selling' themselves to existing employees in much the same way the would when promoting themselves to prospective hires," Willmer said.