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Tech may be in for a tough year

What will 2009 bring for the tech industry and for you as a consumer of tech products?

What will 2009 bring for the tech industry and for you as a consumer of tech products? Wayne Gudbranson, head of the Branham group in Ottawa, tracks Canada’s tech sector. Every spring he produces a list of the top firms.

Early data shows average revenue growth has dropped from 44 per cent to 22 per cent and for those companies reporting in December 2008, revenue growth has dropped to 12 per cent.

Gudbranson urges tech clients to spend some money now to be in a better position when things improve. However, there’s no shortage of firms laying off — from Mitel to Corel, to Nortel cutting another 125 jobs in Ottawa and perhaps staring at bankruptcy within weeks.

Outside of Ottawa, it can be even tougher. The San Jose Mercury recently reported that 75 per cent of firms in Silicon Valley may close or merge before all is said and done.

We will see a U.S. stimulus program under President Obama that will inject cash into tech infrastructure. It’s far from clear whether the Tories will do the same in their upcoming budget.

On the consumer side, many of us will also be wary about spending money on tech. Gartner Consulting says sales of many tech toys will drop 15 per cent and cell phone sales will dip 10 per cent.
Wireless applications will continue to grow, especially related to GPS, said Don Campbell, CTO at the former Cognos. You will know what is around you, the information will be tailored to you and it will be there for the asking.

Video gaming has seen its first slowdown in years but it will still dominate our leisure time and be ever more realistic.

Social networking techniques will continue to surface in the workplace. If federal departments like Natural Resources can have a reasonably successful wiki and teach other departments how to do it, then it really is moving into the mainstream.

Ottawa needs some excitement in tech with more companies prepared to talk about what they’re doing rather than what they’re not doing. ­Gudbranson said Ottawa is in a fight to keep its title as Canada’s Silicon Valley, and the next year will be a pivotal one.

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