DON'T look now : Storm clouds are gathering over tech. Chinese consumers have pulled back their spending, blowing a $9 billion hole in Apple's recent quarterly revenue.

China was again a culprit when Nvidia warned last month that its revenue would come in 20 percent  below expectations, though the graphics chip maker also blamed slack demand from Bitcoin miners and  cloud data centers.

Intel, the big chip maker, cited intensifying ''trade and macro concerns'' for financial results in January that did not meet expectations.

And Samsung, another semiconductor powerhouse, said sales plunged 10 percent in the fourth quarter because of weakening demand for its memory chips from data centers and smartphones.

China, smartphones, Bitcoin and cloud computing have been among the major drivers of the long tech boom, which in turn has powered the global economy for the last decade.

The ingredient common to all of these sectors is computer chips, which forms the brains of devices and whose ubiquity  means they provide early signals about changes in supply and demand.

Warnings about a sales slowdown this year have come in recent weeks from big chip suppliers that also include  Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Micron Technology and  Western Digital.

It's an abrupt reversal , coming on the heels of the  stellar results in 2018 for the business that gave  Silicon Valley its name.

Last year, manufacturers shipped a staggering 1 trillion chips and other semiconductor devices, 10  percent more than the year before, IC Insights estimates.

But 2019 is shaping up to be a much different story, now that several important sources of chip demand appear to be dampening.

The notion that a chip dip could lead to a general downturn evokes memories of 2000. When one day tech had an unlimited future and the next it was crashing in what became known as as  the dot.com bust.

Back then, investors showed no mercy. Intel made what seemed a modest adjustment to its revenues forecast for the third quarter 2000, saying it would be up to 3 to 5 percent instead of  7 to 9 percent.

The value of the company immediately fell by nearly 30 percent over the next few days.

This year, with a similar downgrade, investor's, investors  largely shrugged it off.   Intel shed about  5 percent of its value over a week.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Technology and Markets continues. The World Students Society thanks authors and researchers David Stretfeld and and Don Clark.


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