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Highly successful tech venture capitalist Fred Wilson created some waves last week when he predicted Apple wouldn’t be among the top three most important tech companies in the world by 2020. Speaking at a conference in New York City, he said he envisions Google, Facebook and “one that we’ve never heard of” making up that triumvirate.
Why would his dismiss the current largest tech company in the world (Apple’s first quarter revenues of $43.7 billion was more than Google, Facebook and <insert name of any company you’ve never heard of here> combined). According to a TechCrunch article, he said Apple is “too rooted in hardware” and not sufficiently tied into the cloud.
“I think hardware is increasingly becoming a commodity,” he said. “Their stuff in the cloud is largely not good. I don’t think they think about data and the cloud.”
Of course, Wilson – who has backed huge success stories like Twitter and Tumblr – has been wrong about Apple before. As CNN Money points out, he dumped all of his Apple stock at $91.36 per share in January 2009. The day of his comments at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Apple closed at $600.96. (Note: Wilson said he sold his stock because he didn’t feel Apple was being honest about Steve Jobs’ health.)
Mark Rogowsky, a contributing technology writer at Forbes, took Wilson’s comments to task in a recent article – citing “1/3 of a billion people use iCloud backups regularly” and the success of Apple’s massive iTunes/App Store. Of iTunes, Rogowsky writes:
“Apple’s revenues from all those downloads would total $23.5 billion if it were accounted for as a standalone business, according to Asymco. That small part of Apple’s overall business would be #130 on the Fortune 500 if it were a standalone company. For a sense of just how much that is, Facebook — the company Wilson says will be the second-most valuable behind Google in 2020 — took in just under $8 billion last year. For having “nothing,” Apple’s producing a good deal more than nothing in cloud revenues.”
So, check back in six years and see if Wilson or the plethora of pundits who disagree with him were correct.
What’s not disputable in this conversation is that hardware, as Wilson points out, is indeed becoming a commodity and cloud computing is essential for future innovation and success.
Online Tech co-CEO Yan Ness discusses that topic in the following video clip, saying “(organizations) don’t want to deal with the hardware anymore … they just want to pay the price and have somebody else take care of it.”