SAN JOSE, Calif. The government's economic stimulus package probably won't have a big impact on the computer and communications industry's recovery. But emerging markets and several other growth factors will help it pull out of a slide that continues to deepen, said John Gantz, chief research officer at International Data Corp.
Forecasts for the IT market continue to slide in "the worst economic crisis since the computer was invented in 1940s," said Gantz at the company's annual Directions event here. But he said the industry is in "as good a shape as it could be to weather this crisis."
Projections of worldwide gross domestic product in 2009 have fallen to a negative one percent, climbing back up to 3.2 percent by 2012, Gantz reported. That's down from 2.7 percent this year and four percent in 2012 before the financial crisis hit in September 2008.
The computer and communications industries, which have not always tracked overall economic trends, will outperform the GDP, Gantz said. IDC estimates IT sales growth about flat at 0.5 percent this year, spiking back up to 6.2 percent by 2012.
"We are in new territory and we are in the dark," Gantz told an audience of several hundred attendees, noting one executive called it "an extinction event."
The good news is IDC identified several growth areas. Over the next four years user transactions will grow more than eightfold, and stored data will grow to 2,500 exabytes, up 4.5-fold.
New kinds of devices including smart meters and RFID readers will grow 3.6-fold. Mobile Internet users will grow to 1.242 billion in 2012. In addition, the number of servers will nearly double, however much of the growth will be in virtual servers rather than new hardware.
Hot areas for IT spending will be in social networks for business, security, mobile data, outsourcing and cloud computing, Gantz said. Among areas to watch, he included virtualization software, location-based services, IP-based surveillance, smart grids and video search.
Gantz made a pitch for emerging markets, especially in Asia outside Japan as the source of much of the growth. Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa markets will represent 28 percent of 2009 spending but 56 percent of growth over the next few years, he said.
The government's recently passed economic stimulus package won't be a major factor in the industry's recovery, he predicted. The 112 technology line items in the package could amount to as much as $250 billion in spending over four years, but that's a drop in a $10-12 trillion computer and communications market over the period.
"We've advised our analysts not to bake this into growth packages," Gantz said. "Our thinking is to assume the stimulus packages will not make things worse."