Five tech sectors staring into the abyss

The end is nigh for some areas of the tech industry. We look at which ones could be six feet under in the not too distant future.

As we all know, nothing lasts forever.

Regardless of how wonderful a technology appears to be at the point of creation, it will eventually be replaced by something better.

Businesses need to keep up with what technologies could be redundant in years to come. If they don't, they'll risk being left with an IT infrastructure as healthy and as useful as a dying slug.

We take a look at five areas of the IT industry facing extinction areas where organisations may need to consider a complete rethink in how they are managed.

Some of these sectors may survive, others will not. Pay a visit to the business IT graveyard in the not too distant future and you might see their names engraved on tombstones next to the likes of floppy disks and dial-up modems.

Netbooks

If netbooks do become a thing of the past in the next few years, they would have had a very short life indeed. There are a number of clear indicators these little devices will be kicking the bucket some time soon.

First off, there's the figures. Over the last four months, sales of netbooks have declined rapidly. In December, year-over-year sales in Western Europe were down 18.4 per cent, according to research firm Context. In January they had fallen 22.5 per cent and in February 34 per cent.

These declines come despite netbook price drops. Across the continent, average netbook sales prices went down from 236 (205) in January 2010 to 218 (189) this year.

"They're still not selling in huge numbers," said Context's mobile analyst Salman Chaudhry.

"It looks very likely that the tablet market is replacing the netbook market I think it'll still have a small presence but no way near the peaks we saw in 2009 when they were defying all vendor demand."

Then there's comment from within the industry. Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook said last year that he was unable to "think of a single thing a netbook does well." Even earlier in 2010, Steve Jobs described netbooks as "just cheap laptops."

It's obvious Apple has an agenda here, but when an actual netbook vendor is compelled to put out a statement saying it will continue to produce the devices, you know something must be up.

Earlier this year, a senior employee at Acer reportedly said the manufacturer would be leaving the netbook segment altogether to focus on tablets. Although Acer then came out to assure the public it would continue making netbooks, it admitted "the computer market is changing."

Indeed it is, and one change that looks likely is the usurping of netbooks by tablets. Convertibles like the Dell Inspiron Duo could also put a dent in netbook sales, although that particular machine failed to astound IT PRO.

Nevertheless, the IT Grim Reaper is starting to swing his scythe in the direction of netbooks.

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