Prognostications for the Big-3 in 2013

Am I suddenly becoming a car guy? Not hardly. The Big-3 to which I’m referring aren’t GM, Ford and Chrysler, but rather, the three most important companies in technology today: Google, Apple and Microsoft.

  I know some will argue to me that there are others that should be on the list like Samsung, IBM, HP and RIM. Well, first of all it wouldn’t be the Big-3 then would it? But let’s don’t argue math and just take a look at some of those names.
Google, Apple and Microsoft

Admittedly Samsung is #2 in revenue, just behind Apple at ~$150B, but they’re not on the list because I view them as part of the Android (read Google) ecosystem. And where Google/Android goes, they will follow… aside from their consumer electronics business.

HP is #3 in revenue, but they just do PC and server hardware. Who cares? Regardless of their revenue might, one would be hard pressed to name anything HP has done or is likely to do that has a major impact on the industry.

What about Foxconn, #4 in revenue? See Samsung answer above except replace Google with Apple.

IBM at #5 – yawn. Look up the term “cash cow” when you get a chance. You’ll probably see their logo.

Panasonic, Toshiba and Sony (#6, #7 and #9 in revenue)? Consumer electronics can make a lot of money, but like HP, nothing any of these companies do will have a significant impact in the high tech world in 2013.

Dell is #10 in revenue and I’ve included them in the wanta-be list just because I wanted to cover the top ten. Done.

RIM – seriously? OK, I just put their name in there so I could have an easy one. The only question for them in 2013 is, will there be a 2014?

You might have noticed that I left out #8 – that’s Microsoft at $74B. That completes the top ten in revenue and no sign of Google. They come in at a paltry $30B.

Before getting on to my prognostications for the Big-3 I want to point out that my Big-3 list is ordered by importance (Google, Apple and Microsoft) which is interesting in that it is the inverse of their order by total annual revenue.  Also, I hope you don’t mind me being somewhat vague in my predictions, but I find that my accuracy is directly proportional the my vagueness.

Google – will continue on their path of becoming the company most countries fear and spend more and more time in antitrust courts around the world. It was IBM, then Microsoft… now it’s Google. From a technology perspective I expect to see Google continue to improve Android for phones and tablets enabling increased marketshare for the entire ecosystem of companies like Samsung, LG, HTC and others (not to mentions their own Nexus brand).  In fact, I expect to see Android tablets selling more than iPad on a month-to-month basis by December.

Apple – appears to want to become a consumer electronics company with all the rumors of Apple TV and Apple watches. What they’re going to find out is that industry is much different than the computer/smartphone industry. The Apple religious types may be willing to pay 20%-30% more to have the Apple logo, but I don’t think there are enough of them to make Apple a serious player with TV’s and watches.  People buying TV’s are a very different crowd than people buying iPhones and iPads.  If Apple goes down that route they will get an initial bump from media hype alone, but it will eventually become a serious hemorrhage of margins… not what Wall Street wants to hear.

Microsoft – has already followed the IBM path in being the antitrust target of the world and those days are gone.  Now the question is will they follow IBM into becoming a boring, technologically irrelevant, but profitable cash cow company?  Windows and Office are too embedded into the world’s IT infrastructure for Microsoft to go away but can they regain technology relevance?  They have an opportunity with Surface and Windows Phone but I don’t think we’ll know by the end of 2013. But they could be a sleeper.


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