E.U. slaps a fine on Intel, but the antitrust fight is far from over
Antitrust troubles for Intel had been brewing for a while when the European Commission fined the chip giant €1.06 billion ($1.44 billion at the time) in May, citing damage to competition as a result of discounts the chip maker gave to partners. In 2008 the Korea Fair Trade Commission fined Intel about $25 million for abusing its dominant position in the processor market. Intel has been fighting the antitrust battle on many fronts. In November Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced that they had settled all antitrust litigation and patent cross-license disputes. Intel also will pay AMD $1.25 billion. The fight is not over yet, though. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is conducting an inquiry into Intel business practices, and in November New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit charging that the company had conducted a "systematic campaign" of illegal conduct. No matter how the current cases end, antitrust scrutiny is reshaping the chip market. Intel has to rethink its strategy of discounts to its PC maker friends, and meanwhile, AMD has an extra billion dollars to help it mount further attacks on Intel's market share.
Droid takes smartphone battle up a notch
In October, Verizon launched the Droid, a half-inch-thick contender for the smartphone crown. Sporting a 3.7-inch touch screen, a metal top, and sliding keyboard, the device is the first serious contender to challenge the iPhone and the BlackBerry. Verizon is banking on Droid to counter AT&T's iPhone offering, while Motorola -- Droid's manufacturer -- is desperate for a hit product as memory of its Razr phone fades. The Droid is also a standard bearer for Google's Android, an OS that looks like a force to be reckoned with in the phone and netbook market. Ultimately, the Droid launch was one of the emblematic tech events of the year, highlighting global adoption of small-form devices that connect to the 'Net.
- Is the Droid an iPhone killer? Find out in InfoWorld's deathmatch comparison.
IT forecast: Clearing, with a chance of sun
The recession was a story for every sector this year, but tech occupies a special place in the recovery. At the beginning of December, IDC echoed other market research companies when it declared that IT will lead us out of the Great Recession. Global IT spending will increase by 3.2 percent in 2010, getting back to 2008's pre-recession spending level of about $1.5 trillion, IDC said. Tech did not do as badly as had been feared. Gartner said worldwide chip revenue will hit $226 billion in 2009, down 11.4 percent from last year but better than the previous forecast, which called for a 17.1 percent decline. Meanwhile, IDC said global PC shipments in the third quarter rose 2.3 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, to 78.1 million units -- the first quarter this year in which PC shipments increased compared to 2008. Until now though, revenue for most vendors has been below 2008 results. Until vendors start reporting results that exceed year-earlier figures, tech will not be out of the woods.