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2009: The Halftime Report

This is when it starts to get better, right? Actually, maybe so. We heard beginning back in 2007 (maybe before then) that there was a recession coming and that it might be pretty bad. We heard the presidential candidates talk about it during most of 2008. And by the time 2009 came around, we were mired in it, with even Microsoft laying people off en masse for the first time ever and reporting disappointing earnings -- by Redmond's standards, anyway.

Well, today marks the first day of Microsoft's new fiscal year and the first day of the last six months of calendar 2009. So, how are we doing, tech industry? Are we too far behind to catch up for this year, or are we a second-half team poised to strike late?

The latest round of news and surveys shows that we might just have a fighting chance of coming back in 2009. OK, there are pessimists out there; one consultancy has declared 2009 a "disaster," at least in terms of IT salaries, which must be at least a reasonable measure of how the tech economy is going. But keep your eye out for the August issues of both Redmond and RCP magazines because we do some salary surveys of our own around here, and the results might just surprise you. That's all we're going to say at this point. You'll just have to be in suspense for a month or so.

There are other indications that show that tech is poised for a second-half turnaround. We told you yesterday that Gartner's number crunchers said that they were perhaps a little too pessimistic in their forecasts for PC shipments in 2009. Well, never to be outdone by Gartner, the Forrester folks said this week that they actually thought 2009 would be a little better than it has been so far for the industry as a whole. However, they are saying that the worst is over and that the tech industry -- at least in the U.S. -- is poised for a fourth-quarter rally and strong 2010.

Maybe we should ask Frank Reich what he thinks will happen. As well as we can remember (we didn't Google this, nor did we Bing it), Reich is still the quarterback who is the author of the greatest comebacks in the history of both college football and the NFL. He led the Bills to that famous playoff comeback over the erstwhile Houston Oilers back in January of '93, helped by former Texas Christian University legend Kenneth Davis at running back. (A gratuitous, largely random TCU reference? You bet.)

What we need now is a Frank Reich for the tech economy. It might be Windows 7. It might be improvement in the economy as a whole. It might simply be a change in attitude from gloom and fear to hope and courage. In any case, whatever it is we need might already be here, if we're to believe the analysts and their numbers. Let's hope that the tech industry in 2009 can stage a fourth-quarter rally for the ages. Hopefully it's already in the works.

What's your take on the economy and your business for the second half of 2009? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 07/01/2009 at 1:22 PM


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