Amid renewed corporate and consumer investment, analysts are predicting a wave of innovation and growth in the technology arena this year that could continue to reshape the face of the future.
Spurred by signs of increased spending, particularly for computer hardware and network equipment, the Department of Commerce early this year revised upward its numbers for 2004 business investment in information technology, and Forrester Research projected growth for IT spending to hit more than $775 billion. Meanwhile, consumer spending on electronics continues to grow, pushing new innovations and competition in the industry.
While key tech trends are always difficult to predict, Forrester Research early this year surveyed more than 500 technology experts and found a broad range of projections, including continued momentum in corporate offshore outsourcing, an increased focus on technology to measure corporate performance, more use of wireless networking, and consumer advances in areas including laptops, PCs, and mobile phones.
To help you keep pace and position, Hispanic Business has compiled some of the hottest trends that are likely to affect you and your business in the not-too-distant future.
Sales of laptop computers will increase and claim an ever-larger share of the PC-buying dollar, says Christopher Ireland, principal and CEO of Cheskin, a consulting firm in Redwood Shores, California. Last year, the dollar sales of laptop computers surpassed that of desktops among U.S. retailers – at a time when retail computer sales overall jumped 13.6 percent over the previous year, according to The NPD Group, a market-research firm based in Port Washington, New York.
In January 2000, laptops represented less than 25 percent of sales volume. By May 2003, laptops accounted for more than 54 percent of the nearly $500 million in retail computers sold, and some analysts predict demand will increase by 30 percent over the next two years.
Improvements in technological efficiencies and the increased corporate and consumer demand is driving laptop prices down, and that drop in prices is making them even more attractive. Fully functional laptops can now be found for less than $1,000. And as they become less expensive, consumers are snapping them up for new uses: Sales in recent years, for example, have jumped in the summer months as back-to-school shoppers plop down money on laptops for their children.
Increased convergence – the technology that combines different types of equipment into a single multifunctional unit – has been predicted for years. But the prediction is expected to move closer to reality with the introduction of home entertainment equipment called media centers, media gateways or digital libraries.
Given the fact that an estimated 80 percent of U.S. homes have at least one computer, it's no surprise that manufacturers are looking for ways to diversify, says Stuart Perry, director of electrical engineering for Design Continuum, an international consulting firm in West Newton,
Massachusetts. "There's a lot of energy in hardware manufacturing in trying to get the next big thing inside a home that doesn't look like a PC, but has a PC inside it," says Mr. Perry.
Such systems would be able to share CDs or MP3 files among several computers in a house, along with videos and pictures. An NPD Group survey released in January found that consumers who want to create a home network – linking their TVs, DVD players, audio systems and PCs – do so primarily to share movies, music and photos.
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