ECONOMY

Bourse only one factor in info tech sector’s downturn

The stock market downturn has been almost exclusively blamed for the doldrums of Greece’s information technology sector, while almost no consideration has been given to the impact of rapid technological advances and the impact of outside factors. Despec Technology Holdings, which in 2001 acquired UK-based Psion Digital’s Greek dealer INT Electronics, is a case in point. Psion Digital was then touted as «a world leader in the market for palm-held computers.» However, when the IT giants decided to pay attention to this market segment, Psion found itself surrounded – within a few months Compaq’s iPaq managed to virtually squeeze Psion out of the market, forcing it to announce it was moving away from producing mobile computers. Therefore, Despec’s acquisition never paid off but the loss was small, in keeping with INT Electronics’ size. Greater disappointment awaited those who paid dearly for licenses for fixed wireless access (FWA) telecom services, such as FORTHnet, Info-Quest and the Kopelouzos group. Soon afterward, FWA went out of fashion throughout Europe and lucrative business plans never materialized; the Greek licenses were used as secondary services to corporate clients. Datamedia was probably hardest hit by the global downturn. It held a strong position in the Turkish IT market through several subsidiaries. The scars of the economic crisis in Turkey over the last three years are still evident on Datamedia’s balance sheet. Plans for listing on the Istanbul bourse were dropped. The Pouliades group and a number of smaller firms had similar experiences in Turkey. The Ideal group, another big player, lost a lot of money by investing in e-commerce and the Internet during the period of bourse euphoria.