Apple Inc. (AAPL), Stratasys, Ltd. (SSYS), Netflix, Inc. (NFLX): Five Tech Trends You Cannot Ignore

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Five trends are changing the landscape of tech and can make you serious money. They are:

Wearable tech

At-home 3-D printing

The death of appointment viewing

Mobile wallets

Social networking

Wearable tech

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

John Sculley, former CEO of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), believes wearable tech like the highly anticipated iWatch is the biggest frontier in tech, as he explained in a CNBC interview on July 1. Sculley is CEO of Misfit Wearables, which makes Shine, a wearable sensor only compatible with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for now. Apple’s forthcoming watch is probably the closest thing to “ubiquitous computing,” outside of Google Glass.

Former head of haute couture fashion house Yves St. Laurent, Paul Deneve, and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s design genius Sir Jony Ive are reportedly hard at work on the watch, and a hundred patents have been filed worldwide by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for a watch-like device.

Other companies also working on versions of wearable devices include Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Samsung, and possibly Amazon. And why wouldn’t they, with Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen predicting that the iWatch could be a $6 billion business for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) since watches are a high gross margin–60% or larger– item.

At-home 3-D Printing

3-D printing at home is barely past the “gee whiz” stage of plastic tchotchkes. Expect additional printing materials and more software designs to expand options for consumers in the coming years.

The main challenge to the two biggest companies in the space, the “maker” movement and their adoption of the Makerbot, a desktop 3-D printer, was partially resolved when Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) bought Makerbot. It also bought Objet earlier this year.  While 3-D Systems already had a desktop 3-D printer, the Cube, Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS)’ addition of Makerbot and Objet has almost doubled “maker” users to a third of the pie.

The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The 3-D printing market is estimated to hit $10.8 billion by 2021, according to consulting firm Wohlers Associates, which tracks the sector. Last year, the industry pulled in $2.2 billion, compared with $1.8 billion in 2008.”

While both 3-D Systems and Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) have strong industrial divisions, the Makerbot purchase by Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) was a strategic and savvy buy. The company has 500 patents and the largest variety of materials for printing, giving it a first mover advantage. Numbers don’t lie, as the company has seen 30% plus growth since 2011 to total revenue of $359 million and EPS growth of 59% to $1.49 in 2012, and the company is guiding for total revenue that is $90 million higher for 2013.

The death of appointment viewing

Like Saturday morning cartoons, programs were televised at certain times and only then. If you missed it, maybe you could tape it or catch a rerun. Streaming on Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) enables subscribers to binge, to watch anything at any time from any computing device with internet access.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has first mover advantage to attract subscribers. The company signed up 2 million more US subscribers in Q1, handily beating the company’s own guidance and pushing the stock up 22%.

Not content to “rely on the kindness of strangers,” Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is making expensive deals with big networks and studios so that it, like Yahoo! and Amazon, can create its own original content.

Its original “House of Cards” offering generated a “very nice impact” on earnings, according to CEO Reed Hastings. He hastened to add the $100 million in production costs were similar to the lower end of deals with networks. Q1’s success helped the company decide to expand its original offerings.

Mobile wallet

The mobile payment space is dominated by three names: privately held square, Intuit, and eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY)‘s PayPal. PayPal is the momentum name, making deals with retailers like HomeDepot and Macy’s. Discover Financial Services is collaborating with eBay to expand PayPal to 7 million retail outlets.

An April 2012 survey found that 80% of traditional bank customers would be willing to adopt PayPal as a mobile wallet. Some would even consider traditional bank services from PayPal, according to the survey performed by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group.

eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) has several software platforms for developers to write solutions for merchants and payment options for consumers to charge items directly to their phone bill.  It also has BillSAFE, allowing consumers to pay for purchases immediately upon receipt of an invoice.

CEO John Donahoe expects GSI e-commerce and PayPal to almost double global payments to $300 billion by 2015 from the $175 billion of 2012.

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