"People don't have any money left to buy cool gadgets," said Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research, adding that the housing debacle has drained consumer budgets."
"Intel, the world's largest producer of computer chips, warned on Wednesday that its sales could fall as much as 19 percent in the fourth quarter. Other major players in the chip industry, including Applied Materials and National Semiconductor, offered their own bleak outlooks. Together, the gloomy forecasts suggest that the technology industry is about to enter a slump that will rival or possibly exceed the dot-com bust of 2001. "It is really a complete shutdown of consumer and corporate business," said John Dryden, an analyst with Charter Equity Research. "Things have gotten worse every week of October and even worse in November."
Underscoring how rapidly the decline has occurred, Intel's revised forecast came less than a month after it first handed Wall Street guidance for the quarter.
The warnings from the large semiconductor players mean that consumer electronics and computer companies will probably have a difficult holiday season. Best Buy, the leading electronics retailer, offered its own bleak forecast Wednesday, and its rival, Circuit City Stores, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday.