The technology sector is one of the toughest places to invest. The potential risks are nearly endless. Sometimes a company messes up on earnings because management doesn’t know how to manage costs. In other instances, technology companies lose relevance due to competition. There’s also the possibility that technology becomes irrelevant because of new disruptive technologies.
In the end, we can all relate to the difficulty in investing in tech companies, which is why I am going to lay out the three companies that are most likely to survive, if not thrive, over the next ten years.
Take a bite out of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)
Apple will be releasing a new version of its Apple iPhone in the coming months. The new iPhone will be released using the Apple iOS 7. In this generation of phones, I find it highly probable that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will improve its security features. This means lowering the amount of risk associated with jail breaking. Jail breaking allows a phone to be used across different carriers so long as basic 4G LTE standards are met.
If Apple was to release lower-end Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone devices in emerging markets, it is highly probable that someone will purchase phones in those cheaper markets and sell them in more expensive markets. Imagine someone selling an iPhone at a substantial discount, jail-broken, after bringing the phone in from China. This will create a new, lower-priced market, basically a black market. At the low-end, margins are smaller; therefore jail breaking must be eliminated for Apple’s new product to be profitable.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) currently has standardized pricing across all markets, making it difficult for the company to tap into the vast profit potential of lower-end markets. This is why it is imperative for Apple in its new iOS 7 to release superior protection features.
If Apple releases lower-end phones, then it is highly probable that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been able to figure out a way to reduce the amount of jail-broken phone devices even further. This will increase the amount of profit the company will earn. The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) estimates that between 2010 and 2020, the middle class will increase by 1.4 billion people, and 98% of that will come from emerging markets. If that assumption is accurate, then Apple’s next frontier is to sell low-end Apple iPhone products in emerging markets, and to put restrictions on 3rd party markets. Assuming the company is successful at this, then it is highly probable that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will sustain earnings growth at the 20.88% rate that analysts have projected for the next five years.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is not out-classed
Earlier in the year shares of Microsoft were sold off because of an IDC estimate that indicated that computer demand declined by 14% for the first quarter. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) made up for this decline in PC shipments with Windows 8 upgrade licenses. This helped to offset the decline in demand. Going forward into 2014, IDC projects, the demand for PC shipments will stabilize at a 1.9% growth rate. Assuming that’s accurate, Microsoft’s desktop and laptop segment will eventually stabilize.
Adding further upside to the company is the potential growth of Windows XP. 40% of small businesses still run on Windows XP. In 2014, Microsoft plans to no longer support the Windows XP operating system, which could force millions of upgrades to Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has extended its Office 365 service to iMacs and iPhone devices. This means that Microsoft will capitalize on the rapidly growing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) user base. I estimate that, by 2017, the Office 365 extension will become a $10 billion a year business opportunity for Microsoft.
Going forward, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) will sustain growth because of product extensions and new products.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is always ahead of the curve
Most devices currently use Google to find content on the internet. Google then collects advertising revenue from search advertising. According to IMS Research, the number of internet connected devices will triple to 28 billion from 10 billion. This means that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s addressable advertising market could triple.
Analysts on a consensus basis anticipate the company to grow earnings by 15% on average over the next five years. The company was able to grow search ad revenue by 18% year-over-year in its most recent quarterly release. So the historical data indicates that the company can potentially grow earnings at a 15% growth rate.
IDC projects that the smartphone market will grow at a 25% rate on average until 2016. Based on that statistic, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android Play Store will grow substantially, making it a compelling investment opportunity going forward.
The company’s mix of products in high-growth industries like search-advertising and smartphones will sustain the company’s growth in the coming decade.