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Asian IT in good news shock

Optimism rears its unfamiliar head

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There's a smattering of good news coming out of Asia. It seems that the death grip of the global financial crises may be easing its hold on the gasping throat of the technology industry.

According to a series of reports from Taiwanese industry-watcher DigiTimes, orders are piling up at some tech companies, and forecasts of future sales are looking far rosier than during the hideous last three months of 2008.

Semiconductor designers, for example, are feeling downright perky. The 3,000 employees of the fabless design firm MediaTek are looking forward to a 10 to 15 per cent growth in orders this month, thanks to increased demand from China.

IC designers Realtek (1,800 employees) and Integrated Technology Express (1,300) are seeing the same level of growth this month due to an unexpected bump in motherboard orders.

Smaller companies are seeing even larger improvements, according to DigiTimes' sources. Power-management IC designer Richtek's 440 employees are benefiting from a boost in orders of about 40 per cent, and a number of other small tech companies are looking at improvements in the 30 to 40 per cent range.

The netbook boom is pumping up boutique LED-driver manufacturer Global Mixed-mode Technology (140 employees) and LED-backlighting sales are boosting one of the bigger boys in that field, Epistar, with over 3,000 employees.

Another relatively large company, the 4,800-employee battery-maker Simplo, sees 2009 to be a growth year - they estimate that their battery sales will increase by 5 to 10 per cent this year. That may not be a breathtaking growth rate, but it certainly beats 5 to 10 per cent in the other direction.

It's also important to note that most of the companies who are seeing growth in orders are component manufacturers and not finished-goods vendors. This means that the companies that assemble these components into the products we all buy are also forecasting growth - although theirs will come a bit further down the road.

Of course, not all - or even many - tech companies are looking into the future with smiles on their faces. Just check out the latest layoff news from Vodaphone, Spansion, and others.

Still, with all the gloom and doom that's filled the financial pages in the last few months, the news that some companies are experiencing brighter days is cause for celebration. ®

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