The technology industry, which resisted the economy’s growing weakness over the last year as customers kept buying laptops and iPhones, has finally succumbed to the slowdown, reports the New York Times. In the span of just a few weeks, orders for both business and consumer tech products have collapsed, and technology companies have begun laying off workers. The plunge is so severe that some executives are comparing it with the dot-com bust in 2000, when hundreds of companies disappeared and Silicon Valley lost nearly a fifth of its jobs. October "was like turning a switch," said Robert Barbera, chief economist at the Investment Technology Group, a research and trading firm. "Everything pretty much shut down." Best Buy, the leading electronics retailer, declared this week that "rapid, seismic changes in consumer behavior" had fostered the worst conditions in its 42-year history, and its main rival, Circuit City Stores, filed for bankruptcy protection. Nokia, the world’s largest maker of cell phones, predicted Nov. 14 that global sales of handsets would fall in 2009, which would be only the second decline ever. Technology giants like Intel and Cisco Systems warned that revenue was plummeting at rates last seen in 2001. And Sun Microsystems announced that it would lay off as many as 6,000 employees, or 18 percent of its work force…

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