Research firm IDC in tracking PC sales showed less of a decline in sales than anticipated (7.1 rather than 8.2% as predicted.) While for the first time in memory television set sales are anticipated to decline, despite the U.S. and soon Canadian, switch to entirely digital networks.
Yet the growth of broadband Internet connections carries steadily upward and PC sales decline very little. While overall sales of handsets have leveled off, sales of "smart phones" like the BlackBerry and iPhone continue to increase; perhaps slightly lower, but they continue.
Prices for PC's are expected to drop in 2009 in line with smart phone costs and overall data packages for these phones. And this is important to note, for I see it signaling ever more relevance of the Web in our social and business lives.
The main driver to ever broader adoption of the Web and Web technologies still rests in four crucial areas;
1) Cost of the device/technology
2) Cost to access the Web
4) Ubiquity of Access
These three primary issues are what I have seen as roadblocks to broader adoption of the Web in society as a whole. As the cost of the device falls, so does the cost of access. This is currently happening.
The last two areas, micropayment mechanisms and ubiquity of access will improve, but I suspect somewhat slower than device and access costs. I've been touting the need for micropayment solutions since 1997, and while it's getting better (i.e. PayPal) it's still not there. The primary issue being credit card companies charging too high a rate to merchants for the transaction. Ubiquity of access still comes down to the same issue it has for the past ten years - that last quarter mile. Wireless is, I and many other pundits believe, the answer, but there is a cost of access and who pays. The provider of the service (i.e. the local coffee shop) or the "accessee" of the service (i.e. the patron.) The models are mixed and the arguments good on both sides.
In terms of the Social Web (Social Media) increased PC sales and smart phone sales means that this sector of the Web will grow much faster than what I term the "Commerce Web" or nice electronic brochures.
As the Social Web increases, businesses and organizations as a whole will be further drawn into using these tools. Not just to engage with their audiences, but as productivity and business tools. This is where Google, Salesforce.com, teamworkpm.net and others are set to see significant revenue growth.
So as much as there may be a "recession" (there is no "depression" folks, nowhere near it), the Web will take o an increasingly important place in our economy overall - one as yet largely ignored by the Luddites of traditional industries - to their peril.