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22 March 2013

IT industry is key to EU growth: Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the IT industry was one of the key potential sources for growth in the crisis-hit eurozone, as she opened the world’s biggest high-tech fair.

Formally inaugurating the CeBIT fair, Merkel said that while “a lot” had been done to stabilize the euro, “we still talk about creating growth without really having an answer as to where this growth is going to come from.”

“The IT industry is without doubt one of the possibilities and one of my dreams ... is to create the same founding conditions for all small IT companies everywhere in Europe,” she said.

Hours earlier, Germany’s IT industry lobby BITKOM forecast sales growth this year to rise by 1.4 percent to 153.3 billion euros (US$200 billion), driven by a solid market in smartphones and tablet computers.

While a slight drop from the 2.2 percent seen last year, the forecast is still considerably higher than the 0.4 percent total overall growth for the German economy, the largest in Europe, BITKOM president Dieter Kempf said.

Sales of tablet computers in Germany were expected to rise by 11 percent to 2.3 billion euros, the lobby forecast.

“Sales of tablets should for the first time show the same sales levels as desktop PCs,” Kempf said.

The BITKOM figures also showed a near-complete transformation from standard mobile phones to smartphones in the past four years.

In 2009, smartphones accounted for just 17 percent of phones sold and 34 percent of the turnover.

By the end of this year, they were expected to account for 81 percent of units sold and 96 percent of the sales in the 8.8 billion euro German market.

Global IT spending was expected to rise this year by 5.1 percent to 2.7 trillion euros, BITKOM forecast, with India (13.9 percent), Brazil (9.6 percent) and China (8.9 percent) the biggest growth markets.

“There is a shift in the 2013 country ranking: China has overtaken Japan and is for the first time the second-biggest national market,” Kempf said.

China holds 9.5 percent of the global IT market, now ahead of Japan with 8.3 percent. Both Asian giants are still comfortably behind the US, which enjoys a 26.8 percent share of the world’s technology market.

About 4,100 exhibitors from about 70 countries are expected in Hanover, Germany, for the CeBIT fair, including tech giants Microsoft, SAP, IBM and Google.

This year’s theme is “shareconomy,” the increasing trend of users sharing data and things, with examples being car sharing and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

CeBIT was to open its door formally yesterday, with a host of head-spinning and innovative gadgets awaiting the tens of thousands expected to stream through the hangar-like halls.

This year’s hits include a “3D printer” that creates objects from a computer read-out, a chair for couch potatoes that turns into a rowing machine if you get too fat and a “smart” shopping trolley that does the supermarket run for you.

Also likely to draw attention is a 3D display allowing users to scroll through precious medieval books with just a wave of the hand, tomes that are normally banished behind a glass case or touchable only with white gloves.


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