Thursday, February 9, 2023

Inflation, mass layoffs dampen technological optimism

las vegas— The Consumer Electronic Show (CES), the great annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, opened its doors Thursday in a gesture of optimism in a bleak context of high inflation, layoffs and supply difficulties.

From Thursday to Sunday, more than 100,000 attendees from a hundred countries are expected for a massive communication operation around ultra-connected devices and services.

The CES in virtual format in 2021 and after hybrid in 2022, occupies more than seven hectares, for the return of the various representatives of the sector face-to-face.

“The 2023 edition represents a new step toward a return to normality,” said Steve Koenig, one of the executives of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which organizes CES.

The CTA is betting on technology to revive the economy, as it did with smartphones or high-speed internet more than a decade ago after the “last great economic downturn”.

“This time, I think a powerful new wave of technological change is what will actually reduce inflation and restore global GDP growth,” Koenig said.

These will include robotics, virtual reality and self-driving vehicles, according to this expert.

technology It increases productivity, which lowers production costs and is therefore “an deflationary force for the global economy,” said CTA President Gary Shapiro.

However, the real specter of technology is that it destroys millions of jobs worldwide annually. But there is eerie silence on the issue in the mainstream media, as if it were a coordinated global agreement.

advances in robotics

There will be new TVs, electric skateboards, autopilot baby strollers and more at CES that will impress attendees.

South Korean giant Samsung, which made CES its showcase for the US market, showed the press Tuesday its washing machine that evaluates the level of soiling of clothes and determines the amount of detergent needed.

They also said they are designing an oven with an integrated camera to follow the live cooking of the food and be able to create videos, for example, of how a soufflé rises, especially for social media. A function designed for “influencers” on the network.

LG Electronics introduced it as the first wireless, voice-controlled television aimed at the consumer market.

CES also became one of the most important auto shows, featuring announcements from BMW and Stellantis.

“Gone are the days when CES focused exclusively on TVs, laptops and home appliances,” said Thomas Hewson, an analyst at Forrester.

“Now that software is integrated into all devices, brands are showcasing innovations in electric vehicles, robotics and applied artificial intelligence,” he said.

tight budget

Amid the economic downturn, companies will need to ensure that prices are attractive to consumers who are suffering from inflation and tired of being online during the pandemic.

The CTA estimates that spending on consumer electronics and services in the United States will decline from a record $512 billion in 2021 to $485 billion this year.

Still, while “inflation and the recession will take a toll on the household budget,” “tech industry revenue will remain roughly $50 billion higher than pre-pandemic numbers,” he said. the organization said in a statement.

Many tech companies have flourished during the pandemic, thanks to the lockdown, mass hiring. With a return to normalcy, layoffs and budget adjustments began.

On Wednesday, e-commerce giant Amazon announced it was cutting more than 18,000 jobs, including in Europe, in the biggest job cut in its history.

Earlier, Salesforce Group announced that it will cut 10% of its workforce or around 8,000 jobs.

However, for Koenig, this reality should not hide the real problem: a general shortage of skilled labor.

“20 years ago, technology was a plus for a company. Today, the plus is people,” he summarized.

“Former employees of tech giants easily find jobs elsewhere because other companies need their skills,” said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Techsponential.

For start-ups, however, “talent may be easier to find, but raising funds has become much more difficult due to rising interest rates”, he said.

The semiconductor supply chain also remains a concern.

“Shipping costs are coming down and there are fewer delays at ports around the world, but it’s important to understand what’s happening in China to understand how uncertain the situation is,” Koenig said.

Fuentes: With information from AFP

Nation World News Desk
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