18/7/2001 Intel's income figures are down 76%, which is par for the course in these freefalling times. The markets were expecting this or worse, so they don't do much, but nobody's saying good things about the future. One of the more worrying aspects is the drop in sales of chip making gear. This time last year, the companies that make fab equipment were doing around $6 billion a quarter; today, that's down to under $1 billion. And plenty of companies have spent all they're going to spend this year, so the number of new chip designs out this time next year won't be much to write home about. Which is bad news. So many consumer items, from cars to camcorders, rely on new features to sell. These need faster, cheaper, electronics this year than last. If the chip companies aren't doing that, then lots of market segments will start to stagnate. And then there's the race for efficient IT that's kept so many non-IT companies investing heavily for years in new systems. If the new systems aren't any different to the old, why buy them? I don't know what will happen if the IT market goes away for good, and I'm not sure -- however interesting it is -- I want to find out.