TALK AROUND IRELAND currently involves how people will cut back in recessionary times. In my position, sitting next to a lot of connected people, I believe I will see fewer people "wearing their ICTs" as they make careful choices and prune back their expenses. The first thing I expect to notice is the diversity of ring tones will change as teens buy a smaller amount of things through their phones. At the upper end of the mobile phone species, both O2 and Vodafone will report a dramatic slowing of new accounts during the next three years. Customer loyalty schemes will take on even greater importance as a result.
I don't expect to see a drop in the number of earbuds walking Irish streets because once you figure out how to rip and carry your playlists, you'll bring your stuff along for the ride. It makes a lot of sense to listen to your stuff whenever you wish and when you can buy fewer tracks, you'll find the dusty parts of your collection to compensate. I'm planning to convert some old phones into MP3 players by using some of the gear in the photo at right.
I expect Eircom will report a decrease in the sales of DSL. In fact, I've heard several ICT professionals saying that they're cancelling home broadband since they can get what they want from their office connections. They also see home broadband as a troublespot for their kids so cutting it off means reducing a need for supervision.
In the next Irish budget, don't expect to see any really innovative government programmes to foster 21st century ICT. Instead, expect to hear rewarmed commercial releases, announcements of industry meetings, or information campaigns with government URLs on them.
It's a sad prediction, but I sincerely believe the Irish government will row back on its strategic plan for an all-inclusive Information Society. This isn't a vote-getter so it's a no-brainer to tend to the issues that will generate street protests.