RealTime IT News

The Summer of Love (to Work)

David NeedleReporter's Notebook: SILICON VALLEY, Calif. -- When you cover technology for a living, the summer is usually an excellent time to take advantage of a slower news cycle. You can hone your skills by learning new technology, spend more time developing sources and work on longer lead time, bigger impact stories.

Sure. But let's pretend my boss isn't reading this.

Summer is hot. Summer is vacation. Summer is long lunches. Summer is a time to recover from the rapid-fire news cycle that drives many a tech reporter to their favorite watering hole, YouTube, or other recreational outlets (shameless plug here) for relief.

So what the hell's going on?

As Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz notes in a blog entry just this week:

"Silicon Valley's hot again. How can I tell? My favorite barometer is a personal one -- my commute down either of the two major highways joining San Francisco and San Jose is as bad as it was in the bubble."

Here we are in the middle of summer and it seems like there's a major tech announcement every week.

Sun  itself chose Tuesday, July 11 for one of its most important product announcements in years.

Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, has already labeled this period as "The Summer of Servers" in conjunction with the chip giant's many announcements.

"I'd say this is the busiest summer we've had in the past 10 years I've been here," said Intel  spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

"We're rolling out a new architecture and new microprocessors. It's a complete makeover of our product line that we've signaled for the last six to 12 months."

Intel has big product plans and is feeling competitive heat from AMD,  so it can hardly afford to take a day at the beach.

vacation
A busy tech reporter can only dream.
Source: Jupiterimages

Plus, Intel has to get these new processors out this summer so computer makers can get them into systems for sale in the second half of this year. Neither chip company is snoozing this summer and that means its computer manufacturing partners will be plenty busy, too.

Intel is also in the last few weeks of a 90-day, top-to-bottom review of operations, initiated by CEO Paul Otellini, which is designed to wring a billion dollars in savings.

No time to go on vacation.

The other culprit stealing downtime this summer is the 24 x 7 news cycle, spurred by cable news channels and the immediacy of the Web.

Is there any doubt news now has the shortest shelf life ever? Get the information out now, because there's another story ready to take its place.

Also, the audience for news and tech products is more global than ever.

"Ten years ago, we might be concerned that all of Europe is on vacation (in the summer)," said Mulloy. "That's no longer true. All the world's open for business."

Veteran Silicon Valley analyst Martin Reynolds agreed that any negative association with a summer product release has become a non-issue for tech companies.

"You don't have to worry about timing anymore, you do it when you like," said Reynolds, a managing vice president and Fellow at Gartner.

And products and services aren't the only areas of increased activity.

"We're very busy," Bill Kirsch, managing director of the Costella Kirsch venture lending firm in Menlo Park, Calif., told internetenews.com.

"Generally there is a slowdown in the summer, but my feeling is the venture capital business may well be over-funded. There's a lot of money that has to be deployed, and a lot of new company creation."

Kirsch said VC activity is being driven by opportunities in areas such as mobile connectivity, Web 2.0 and the emerging clean tech industry.

"There's also a huge backlog of companies created bubble and post-Internet bubble, that are still around and looking for money and venture loans, so there's a steady flow of activity."

Analyst Tim Bajarin recalls last summer a lot more companies took the whole July 4th week off, but few did this year.

"It's pretty clear the tech industry is once again hitting on all cylinders," said Bajarin. "You can't take that much time off anymore. You need to keep going to stay competitive."

One important driver is the shift to digital devices for consumers and business. Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, notes that for the first 25 years of the PC industry, success was measured by how many millions of PCs were shipped each year.

"Now we're seeing all sorts of digital devices being sold, and it won't be long till the measure will be billions sold worldwide."

And that means much more for tech sites like ours to report on. We still have August to go, but it's looking like the whole summer will be pretty active.

Said Kirsch: "I'm sure it will slow down. I just don't know when."