10 reasons why tech could be recession proof

iPhones, broadband and gamers give reason for economic hope.

Reasons for optimism about the economy

The U.S. economy has slowed to a crawl in recent months, as housing values have plummeted and gas and food prices have skyrocketed. But the U.S. tech industry is showing resilience . In the last two weeks, Verizon, Time Warner, Comcast and Cisco have joined the list of tech heavyweights reporting strong earnings for the first quarter of 2008.

We've pored over the financial results from the 20 largest IT vendors and other leading indicators. Here's a list of 10 reasons why the U.S. tech industry is looking recession proof right now.

We like to talk on our cell phones

Verizon 's wireless subscriptions are up 1.5 million and AT&T 's are up 1.3 million from the first quarter 2007. Carriers keep signing up wireless customers, and these customers are accessing more Web sites and sending more e-mails. Wireless data revenues grew 57.3% for AT&T and 48.9% for Verizon during the first three months of the year. We may be cutting back on trips to Starbucks, but we're still text messaging.

We're splurging on iPhones

Despite the sluggish economy, consumers are still willing to plunk down $400 to $500 for an iPhone. Apple sold 1.7 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2008 ( See Apple's Q108 results ). That figure is down from 2.3 million in the prior quarter. But it's still impressive that Apple has sold more than 5 million iPhones to date when you can get a free cell phone from your carrier.

We need broadband

Comcast added 492,000 high-speed Internet subscribers during the first quarter, bringing its total up 3.6% to 14.1 million customers. Time Warner's residential high-speed data subscribers grew 304,000 or 4% to 7.9 million. Qwest grew its broadband subscriber 17.2% year over year, to reach 2.7 million subscribers. Our houses may be worth less than a year ago, but we're not willing to cancel the cable or DSL and go back to dial-up.

Comcast's Q108 results

Qwest's Q108 results

Time Warner's Q108 results

We're still buying PCs

We may not be buying our children SUVs for their Sweet Sixteens, but we're willing to buy them laptops. Sales of PCs in the U.S. rose 3.5% in the first three months of 2008, according to market research firm IDC . Thanks to strong demand for PCs in Europe and Asia, worldwide growth in PC sales was up 14.6% in the first quarter.

1984 Redux: We love Macs

Apple shipped more than 2 million Macs in the first quarter of this year -- that's a 51% increase over last year. Strong global demand for Macs helped drive Apple's revenues up 43% -- making it the best March quarter in Apple's history. Not only did Apple sell a lot of Macbook Airs, but it also held its own on iPod sales, which rose 1% to 10.6 million devices. Those numbers aren't fake, Steve Jobs.

Gamers are feeding their addiction

Grand Theft Auto IV debuted in late April to record-breaking first week sales. Analysts predicted GTA4 would sell 5.8 million units in the first week -- nearly double the current record set by Halo last year. Despite tight entertainment budgets, gamers are coming up with $60 for GTA4. Overall, the gaming industry continues to grow like gangbusters. Software sales were up 63% in March 2008 from a year ago while equipment sales were up 46%, according to NPD Group .

We love tchotchkes and booth babes

Attendance at technology trade shows hasn't dropped off -- a sure sign that tech companies aren't slashing their marketing budgets yet. The number of exhibitors at Interop , held in Las Vegas the first week of May, rose 25% between 2007 to 2008. Attendance at the RSA Conference in San Francisco in early April set a new record at 17,000. Macworld's attendance in January was up 5% to nearly 48,000.

We're online

Even if we're not going to the mall or eating out, we're surfing the Web. More than 164 million U.S. citizens are active online. The average U.S. Internet user spent more than 19 hours online in March, up 3.2% from the prior month, according to Nielsen. Increases in search and online advertising drove Google's first quarter revenues up 42% from a year ago to $5.19 billion. Yahoo's revenues were $1.82 billion, up 9% from the same period a year ago.

Source: Google's Q108 results | Yahoo's Q108 results | Nielsen

We still have jobs

Sure, some companies are laying off IT workers, but most of us are still employed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the U.S. IT workforce is at its highest point ever. The IT workforce peaked in 2001 and only recently rose back up to the level seen during the dot-com boom. We're doing interesting work, too. The U.S. IT workforce includes more analysts and software engineers and fewer programmers than at the dawn of the millennium.

Source: Prof. J.P. Allen, Associate Professor of Information Technology at the School of Business and Management, University of San Francisco.

Our companies keep buying IT

Despite pervasive doom-and-gloom headlines, most companies are sticking with IT budget increases in 2008. A Gartner survey of 1,000-plus CIOs worldwide released in April found that 62% of CIOs had no plans to change their 2008 IT budgets. True, 23% planned to decrease their IT budgets, but 15% reported an increase in their spending. Overall, Garner is projecting worldwide corporate IT spending growth of 3.3% for 2008. That trend has shown up in first-quarter 2008 sales increases for IBM, Cisco, EMC, Foundry, Juniper and others.

What do YOU think?

We want to hear from YOU. Is tech going to thrive in spite of a tough economy?