Big hole now, but future bright

Intel chief executive officer Craig Barrett said that the IT industry is now in the biggest recession he's seen in 30 years and he does not know when it is going to come out of it.

However, paradoxically, he added that he has never been more optimistic for the industry, claiming that IT&T is just experiencing a "the period of turbulence" which will preceed an era of "sustained growth." This is the same economic cycle that has hit all new innovative, enabling industries over the past two centuries, Barrett said, citing the steel, radio and TV, electricity and the railroad industries.

Delivering a Switched-On Australia address in Sydney, Barrett pinned his growth predictions on the anticipated build out of a broadband Internet and the covergence of computing and communications technologies, especially wireless.

He downplayed the importance of business to consumer (B2C) ecommerce.

"Business to consumer ecommerce is probably only five to 10 percent of the business across the Internet, business to business dwarfs B2C," he said. "Intel does $US25 billion in sales and $10billion in supplier business over the Internet, and what drives us is that we can save $1 billion a year. " He later added that equivalent productivity benefits and savings could come to any company.

"The 500 million users of the Internet now will surely grow to one billion over the next few years or so. Over the next several years, the leading economies of the world will rely even more on the Internet than they do today for commerce, communication, rich media and information."

Barrett cited a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Pyramid Research that showed Australia had slipped from number two to number six in worldwide e-readiness rankings from 2001 to 2002. The slip was due to slow adoption of broadband connection to the home. Statistics suggest that only 6 percent of Australian homes have broadband Internet connections, compared with 4 per cent in the UK, 19 per cent in the US, 38 per cent in Taiwan and 87 percent in South Korea.

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