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Sat, May 24, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Disease may cost IT firms US$1 billion

AFP , SINGAPORE

SARS could shave US$1 billion off the information technology (IT) market in the Asia-Pacific region outside Japan this year but the recovery is likely to be rapid, an industry monitor said yesterday.

The International Data Corp (IDC) "expects the market to now reach US$76.1 billion [this year], as compared with the previous forecast of US$77.1 billion, an impact of US$1 billion," a statement said.

The effects of the SARS epidemic will be particularly hard on consumer spending on personal computers especially in China, the worst-hit country, the IDC said.

Much of the impact is expected to be felt in the second quarter of this year. The SARS epidemic broke out in the region in March, after having largely been restricted to southern China since November.

"[SARS] has clearly depressed market demand but it has also changed some working and consumer habits," IDC vice president Kitty Fok said. "In some cases, this will have enduring consequences once the outbreak has abated and become more controlled."

The IDC urged vendors to "prepare for the market pick-up" once the SARS scare eases.

"It is quite likely that the recovery will be rapid and preparation for marketing and promotional plans should be underway," it said.

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