Yesterday Microsoft Corp’s Chief Executive Steve Ballmer spoke before a group of Silicon Valley civic leaders (story), reporting that – despite the U.S. economic problems and a threatening recession — he still sees a positive resilience among technology and telecommunications customers worldwide.
But Ballmer says that he is definitely aware that the industry isn’t immune to the effects of the global economy. However, in his travels, Ballmer has observed that people still see a certain buoyancy in the market. "At least, for now, people are feeling, I won’t say optimistic, but better than you would be feeling if you are watching CNBC all day," he stated in the meeting.
It’s certainly no surprise that Microsoft has such a positive outlook. Wall Street analysts are predicting that Microsoft will generate just under $15 billion during its fiscal first quarter ending in September. However, Craig R. Barrett, Intel’s Chairman of the Board, didn’t sound quite so optimistic when he addressed this year’s Intel Developers Forum.
"R&D is how you move forward in the world’s economic system," he said in his keynote speech. "For that, you need the right environment, and the government dictates the business environment ... Every country in the world knows this. Every country except one: this one." He also made it clear in his belief that the U.S. government needed to spend more taxpayer money on research and development.
At this point in time, any funding beyond the War on Terrorism and local economy woes seems unlikely. In a country where quality and innovation has taken a back seat, taxpayers face high gas prices, defaults on mortgages, increase costs in food and utilities. The U.S. government seems more focused on international security and bailing out large corporations from financial disaster.
But despite the opinions made by Steve Ballmer and Craig Barrett, it’s the taxpaying consumer that drives technology forward. Realizing this, Intel launched the Inspire-Empower Challenge, a contest that allows anyone to submit an idea relating to education, healthcare, economic development, and the environment. The winner chosen from each category will be awarded a whopping $100,000 each.
"The Challenge is designed to inspire developers, individuals, and organizations to innovate and empower them to deliver new ways to apply technology to these issues," reads the official website. "The INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge advances the commitment of the Intel World Ahead Program – to connect people to a world of opportunity."
Still, perhaps Ballmer is correct in his observation. Even though consumers cringe at soaring gas prices and corporate bailouts, they’re still buying video games, they’re still buying smart phones and 52" plasma HDTVs. Sure, consumers are extremely cautious, but they’re watching Iron Man: Ultimate Edition (ships Sept. 30 on Blu-Ray) in 1080i and loving every minute of it.