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The top 10 IT stories of 2008: Not business as usual

Recession's impact on IT spending dominates headlines — but there was other news, too

By Marc Ferranti
December 15, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - What started out as a banking crisis this year ended up becoming a story for everyone: retailers, consumers, auto workers — and IT professionals. Although it hasn't been business as usual in the tech industry for much of 2008 because of the economic crisis, other noteworthy news happened as well.

Some big mergers took place — HP buying EDS, for one. Long-awaited products such as the Android-based G1 "Google phone" were launched. Standards wars involving the Office Open XML file format and the Blu-ray and HD DVD video disc technologies concluded. The battle against spam purveyors went on ... and on. The most influential entrepreneur of our time, Bill Gates, moved on from his full-time job at Microsoft Corp. to focus on philanthropy. And that was just one of several big stories that Microsoft was involved in as it moves into corporate middle age and struggles to gain ascendance on the Web.

Here, not necessarily in order of importance, is the IDG News Service's list of the year's top 10 technology stories:

The recession pulls the plug on IT spending

On Dec. 1, the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit organization in Cambridge, Mass., made it official: The American economy has been in a recession since last December. The tech sector isn't immune to the downturn, although the conventional wisdom in some quarters until late in the year was that since corporate IT budgets were slashed after the dot-com bust, there wasn't much left to cut now. Therefore, such thinking went, the tech sector would suffer a sales-growth slowdown but not an actual decline.

But now market watchers are hedging their bets, lowering their spending forecasts for next year and predicting global revenue declines in segments such as PCs and mobile devices. In the latest example, Forrester Research Inc. last week slashed its 2009 growth forecast for total purchases of IT goods and services in the U.S. from 6.1% to 1.6%.

Analysts at Forrester, IDC and Gartner Inc. still think overall IT spending will end up in positive territory next year, because of expectations that an economic recovery will begin within another quarter or two. But if that doesn't happen, look for some IT vendors to go the way of the now-defunct investment banks.

HP gobbles up EDS

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s announcement in May that it would acquire IT outsourcer Electronic Data Systems Corp. for $13.9 billion was a big deal not just because large acquisitions became relatively scarce in a year of economic contraction. With the acquisition, HP positioned itself to challenge IBM in services and consolidate its standing as the world's largest IT company.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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