Predictions '09: Game Makers Will Lead Tech Sector
After such a difficult year for technology stocks, it would seem that 2009 can’t arrive quickly enough. Well, maybe not.
For several components of the tech sector, Wall Street analysts believe 2009 will be a year of transition. The first half will be painful, the second half slightly better, but the real recovery
won’t occur until 2010.
Here's the outlook for five key sectors.
From Apple’siPhone 3G to Research in Motion’s new lineup of BlackBerry handhelds, smart phones were all the rage in 2008. Next year, however, promises to be a tough one for the industry.
“We expect Q1 ’09 to be the worst absolute quarter in terms of year-over-year decline for the industry,” says Michael Walkley, analyst at Piper Jaffray. “We’re modeling a 16-percent drop in year-over-year handset sales in Q1 ’09, and finishing down 9 percent year-over-year for 2009.”
Fueling this slowdown is a global inventory correction. Walkley says that with small and mid-tier distributors having trouble raising capital, global channel inventory will fall to four weeks from its normal six-to-seven week levels.
“Everyone’s anticipating weaker trends into 2009, so everyone wants to hold on to cash,” Walkley says. “This slowdown we’re seeing is much more of an inventory correction than that of demand.”
The strongest players,Nokia , Apple, and RIM, will emerge even stronger as struggling companies such as Motorola and Sony Ericsson see their market share erode even further, say analysts.
“If you look at the last downturn, six handset companies ended up going out of business,” Walkley says. “It’ll be survival of the fittest, and you’ll see the potential for some companies to shut their doors, and the ones who survive will come out stronger.”
With smart phones becoming mainstream, 2009 may finally be the year the mobile Web gains significant traction. If so, that’s good news for Google , says Troy Mastin, analyst at William Blair & Co.
“There’s a big advertising opportunity there to extend some of the successful forms of marketing on the Web today to the mobile channel,” he says. “Google is in as good a position as anyone to be a winner.”
New devices from Nokia, RIM, and possibly Apple, will further boost mobile Web use. And Mastin believes more consumers may ditch their home Internet services in favor of using mobile devices for Web access as a way to cut costs.
But changing dynamics leave Microsoft and Yahoo in a difficult position.
“They tend to rely more on display type advertising, and the portal model continues to get marginalized in 2009 due to the adoption of social networks and microblogging sites like Twitter that will continue to cut into the use of portals,” Mastin says.
The economic downturn has forced both corporations and consumers to change their buying habits.
Ashok Kumar, analyst at Collins Stewart, notes that businesses are extending the life cycles of their PCs from three years to four years or more.