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Trends in technology and media for 2009

Globe and Mail Update

In the last year, economic woes and a sombre outlook translated into slagging profits and layoffs across technology and media industries.

But what does 2009 hold for these sectors? How will tech companies be affected by the downturn? As organizations retrench, what kind of innovation can we expect to see? What are the prevailing trends in telecommunications? Deloitte Canada Research in in the business of answering these questions. In their just-released 2009 Canadian Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions, the company outlines a dozen predictions, from the rise of the netbook to a decimated media landscape and digital communication in the age of information overload.

Duncan Stewart - Director of Deloitte Canada Research in the areas of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), Life Sciences and GreenTech - joined us to discuss what the future holds for technology and media in Canada. Please feel free to leave a comment and continue the discussion.

Mr. Stewart is a member of Deloitte's national TMT executive team and is a co-author of Deloitte Research's annual Predictions report on trends in Technology, Media and Telecommunications.

He has almost two decades of experience in the industry. As an analyst and portfolio manager, Mr. Stewart has written research on names such as Nortel and Celestica, and been a venture capital investor in Research in Motion, among others.

Mr. Stewart is a Chartered Financial Analyst and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia.

Editor's Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Matt Frehner, Globeandmail.com: Thank you for joining us today Mr. Stewart. Let's get right to the questions.

SA from Toronto, Canada writes: if I'm in the market for a new computer, what do you recommend: laptop or one of these new netbooks?

Duncan Stewart: It really depends on your needs. If you are playing high-end video games, working with big spreadsheets or doing anything else that requires cutting edge processing, then you really need to pay the extra money for the "latest and greatest" notebook. If you are an Apple fan, then you have to go notebook since they don't make a netbook version…yet!

If, on the other hand, you are buying it for your kids (or your parents) and all they need to do is surf the web and check their emails, a netbook is the perfect device. Even for a "power" user a netbook is a great second portable machine. They are so light (and cheap!) that they make flying a breeze. And unlike some bigger laptops, you can open them fully even when the "inconsiderate-jerk-in-the-seat-in-front-of-you" reclines his or her seat 5 minutes into the flight!

They are particularly useful if you want a home machine (or extra one) and have a wireless network set up. Bring it to the sofa and surf while watching Lost, or bring it up to bed in case you want to do some online reading before turning in for the night. (Warning — that last idea might turn out badly if you are married — netbooks may be small and light but I am sure they would still be painful if your spouse clobbered you with one!)

Globeandmail.com: With the iPhone, BlackBerry Storm and countless other smart phones coming to market and offering so much wireless multimedia, will the networks start getting bogged down with too much data this year, or will we really see a jump in speeds with 3G technology?

Duncan Stewart: The networks are already starting to slow down, but not always where you would expect. Yes, when 3 million people tried to email a picture of the new president on Tuesday that caused some problems.

But many of the bottlenecks are occurring even when things aren't quite that historical. More and more mobile phone/smart phone users are part of the problem, but it is also people with laptops and wireless modems. The cellular networks can (almost always) handle the number of users accessing the system. They can also (some of the time) handle users downloading megabytes of data. Where they have problems — because they weren't built for it — is in uploading data from users and sending it upstream through their networks. That "backhaul" congestion needs to be solved by hardware and software.

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