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High-tech industry

March 1, 2010

As the world's largest technology trade fair prepares to do business in the German city of Hanover, the country's high-tech industry has predicted a slow return to growth and earmarked 2010 as a year of transition.

An iPhone
Smartphones are a pick-me-up for Germany's technology industryImage: AP

When the winds of recession swept through Germany last year, they wrought havoc across the high-tech landscape. The industry suffered a slump of 4.3 percent, and is still trying to get back on its feet.

The Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, BITKOM, says it does not expect the sector to regain its strength in 2010, but hopes to see it grow by 1.6 percent to 142 billion Euros ($193 billion) in 2011.

"Demand is taking off significantly, especially in the IT sector," BITKOM president August Wilhelm Scheer told reporters in Hanover ahead of the trade fair on Monday, adding that he anticipated "a dramatic push" from CeBIT.

IT looking healthier

Dozens of people sitting at computer screens
Investment in information technology set to riseImage: AP

Scheer also said the industry was beginning to see "barriers for firms to invest in IT solutions" slowly disappearing. Although information technology was hit less hard than other fields, it still lost ground. BITKOM's figures suggest predict an investment growth of just 1.4 percent in 2010, and a further 3.8 percent in 2011.

Scheer said almost two thirds of German high-tech companies were anticipating a growth in turnover for 2010.

The most important international IT market for this year will be the European Union, which controls a 28 percent share, one percent more than the US.

Germany is expected to rank as the fourth most important IT provider worldwide, following the US, Japan and China, which tops the league table.

Smartphones and co.

Flat screen television
Flat screen televisions have taken over from their bulky predecessorsImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

According to Scheer individual consumers also appear to be regaining a taste for state-of-the-art electronica, with sales figures indicating a particular interest in smartphones, mobile computers and flat screen televisions.

BITKOM says the mobile internet is the most important growth driver of the year, with a predicted sector gain of 8.4 percent.

The new darling of the telephone world, the smartphone is set to experience a fifty percent increase in popularity, meaning one in three cell phones sold in Germany would be multimedia devices .

And in keeping with that trend, Scheer said people would make more telephone calls, not from landlines, but from mobile sets and over the internet.

CeBit opens its doors to the public on Tuesday.

Editor: Michael Lawton