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IDF Someone has got to be an optimist about a tech industry upturn, and that someone is usually Intel CEO Craig Barrett.

Treading familiar territory at the Intel Developer Forum, Barrett makes the simple point: all recessions end. Will this one end in 2003? Maybe not: but IT investment has surely bottomed out. Pointing to analyst forecasts of global uptick in IT spending of between 4-7 per cent, Barrett thinks there are many reasons to be cheerful.

On the prosaic side, there's plenty of ageing kit out there – 160-180m PCs over three years old which will have to be replaced sometime. The withdrawal of support for Win 95 and Win 98 at the end of this year could be a kicker, Barrett mulls. Then there is the digitization of content – video, music – which means more reasons to buy new PCs and sundry devices.

Also there is plenty of room for IT growth, certainly outside the US. Today the global IT economy is about $1 trillion, and this will grow to c. $1.3bn by 2005-2006, Barrett says.

Despite all the bad news, Internet usage continues to grow apace, he notes. By 2006, there should be one billion Internet users and two billion Internet-connected devices. By 2006, $10 trillion dollars a year will be transacted through ecommerce. Outside the US, the broadband build-out is gathering steam – Barrett cites Japan as an example of what a country should do – US regulators, take note. The world is also starting to see the build-out of wireless networks, wide area as well as local. ®

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