If 2000 was the year of drunken dotcom excess, and 2001 has been a painful hangover, 2002 may be the year when the technology sector sobers up and does some soul-searching. Industry observers polled expressed cautious optimism about the future, although hope for a quick rebound has been all but dashed by the woes of the global economy. The popular impression of the year ahead is that while the worst is over, the good times may still be some time away. 'The economy may not recover in the short term, and in that case we will continue to see layoffs, which in turn affect the overall economy,' says Outblaze chief executive Yat Siu. '2002 will most likely be a Year of Sobering, as 2001 was very much a Year of Falling Down Intoxicated.' Mr Siu predicted a year ahead where troubled markets and badly beaten investors result in little money available for innovation and funding new ideas. He says consolidation will result in refined versions of past 'Internet boom' ideas, but in companies using stronger business fundamentals. 'The Internet industry brought forth bursts of creativity followed by excessive imitation; now that the majority of market-crowding imitators are gone, those with good ideas will have the benefit of learning from the mistakes of the past while focusing on how to survive using profits rather than inflated stock prices.' As in other parts of the local economy, the tech industry is looking to piggyback on the economic growth of mainland China this year. Paul Mottram, chief operating officer of Upstream Asia, says the mainland's entry to the World Trade Organisation will mean the emergence of a software industry developing products and tools specifically for China. Tom Siebel, chief executive of software giant Siebel Systems, says the market will return to 'normal' in the coming months. 'It is normal at a much lower level than a year ago, but at least it is not this gut-wrenching dynamic downslide that we saw in the second and third quarters,' he says. Gene Delaney, president of Motorola Asia-Pacific, says the company plans an aggressive campaign to expand market share in the region during the next 12 months, but cautioned that costs would be carefully controlled. 'I've been travelling throughout the region talking with customers and employees about the year ahead. All of us agree that leading through a period of profound uncertainty will be the challenge for 2002,' he says. Yolanda Chan, chief marketing director for Microsoft Hong Kong, says her company will continue to press ahead with new products in 2002. Not everyone is prepared to wait and see if 2002 brings better times in the SAR. Frustrated by what he sees as a lack of progress in areas such as e-commerce and wireless technology, Jonathan Hakim, managing director of techpacific.com's incubator, tpLabs, is leaving town to seek his fortune in Beijing. 'Being one of the foremost bulls during the last couple years and really appreciating the potential for Hong Kong, I am trying my best not to be negative,' he says. '[But] when you first asked me [what will be hot in Hong Kong next year] not much, if anything came to mind.' Mr Hakim, a fixture on the local technology scene for several years, and founder of companies such as Boom.com and Gorilla Communications, predicted it will take until 2003 before there is a significant rebound.