But the server arena is an artifact of the electronics economy, of which consumer electronics plays a huge part. So, gauging from CES, Iï¿¼d have to say that the high-tech world is not coming to an end, and so, presumably, neither is the server arena.
The leading indicators are the aisles between the exhibit booths. You could not see any distance down the main aisles shortly after opening, since the crowd was so thick. Thatï¿¼s good. However, you could walk at a moderate pace rather than shuffle haltingly along, as is the case during boom years. So we have mixed indicators.
Then, thereï¿¼s the projections of the statisticians of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA, sponsor of CES) presented just before the show opened. Consumer spending is a major economic engine, and the CEA figures showed that consumer spending grew modestly in Q1 and Q2 2008 (each quarter showing an annual rate of about 1 percent) but the graph plunged in 3Q08, falling -4 percent. But Q408 was an improvement, being closer to -3 percent, and the CEA projects that Q109 will be basically flatï¿¼further improvement, in other words. Quarters after that will be in positive ranges, at least one point above the baseline. By the end of 2010 it may as well be 2007 again, with growth of 4 percent.
In 2009, PC unit sales are expected to rise 5.1 percent, to 29 million. (Revenue may not rise, due to price erosionï¿¼PC revenue fell 1 percent in 2008 while unit shipments rose 6 percent.) Sales are expected to hit 43.3 million units in 2012.
The netbook/subnotebook category is projected to grow 80 percent during 2009, making it one of the fastest growing product categories. (In case you were wondering, OLED displays are expected to be the fastest growing category, rising 149 percent.)
None of this makes it look like the high-tech world is coming to an end. So while the rest of the economy may be rocky, IT may end up being an island of calm.
At least, we can always hope.
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