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Auld Lang Sine

Thu, 11/29/2001 - 9:09am

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By Kim Stokes, Editor-in -Chief, kstokes@cahners.com


Another year almost gone. Many of us will not be sorry to see it go. Most people spent 2001 waiting for a rebound in the economy and the wireless industry. The National Bureau of Economic Research has announced their decision that the United States is in a recession — the tenth since the end of World War II and the second in ten years. The decision states that the recession began in March 2001. Tell us something we don't know, like when it will be over.

Reports suggest that the economy was about to turn around when the horror of September 11th occurred. More recent reports suggest that during this season of retail gorging, we are exactly where we were on September 10th. Shopping isn't as good as in years past, but its up higher than expected. Will we continue to improve as we end this dreadful year? Only time will tell.

In 2001, the wireless industry saw a lot of activity, but not the kind it wanted to see. The industry saw a staggering amount of layoffs which have become almost a daily occurrence, bankruptcy filings, and merging of companies, if they were lucky enough not to fold altogether.

On the positive side, we witnessed the emergence of new technologies and more people relying on the wireless industry than ever before. As 2001 comes to a close we are all anxious to see what 2002 will hold for the company we work for, the industry we work in, and the world. According to the Maryland-based telecommunications consulting firm Shosteck Group, the telecom industry hit bottom and should begin turning around in the first quarter of 2002. While this may not mean that it will go back to the way it was prior to the recession, opportunities abound for innovative companies that have withstood the blow of 2001.

Ericsson's Chief Executive Kurt Hellstrom has expressed that the company is 'cautiously optimistic' that the industry will rebound next year. He will not rule out further job cuts but did say that he could see the industry changing for the better.

Cautious optimism sounds like a good idea. Trade shows in the first half of 2001 brought a mixed bag of responses to the question of when the industry would start to bounce back — by June, by September, at year's end? Time to wipe 2001 off the board and hit 2002 running.

One trend that seems to be emerging as we usher out this year is that companies catering to internal design of wireless phones and notebook computers are seeing some relief and appear to be 'cautiously optimistic' in the recovery of the industry. Revenue across most of the industry is still down, but companies like Texas Instruments reported sales in its wireless division up 16 percent. Smaller companies like Alpha Industries, RF Micro Devices and Intersil are also predicting slight increases.

As we look to 2002 with as much optimism as one can muster, we bid a welcomed farewell to 2001. After all, the wireless industry holds the technology key to the future, and if any industry can rebound, it is this one! The staff of Wireless Design & Development wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season, and a prosperous New Year.

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