The War to Power the World: General Electric Company (GE), Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ)

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Milk’s favorite cookie
The Oreo cookie was first sold to the American public by the National Biscuit Company (known today as Nabisco) on March 6, 1912. These cookies should need no introduction — two chocolatey wafers sandwiching a cream filling. It was a simple combination, but undeniably successful. Based their cookie on a very similar one called the Hydrox, Oreo’s promoters employed superior marketing tactics, and Oreo soon became one of the world’s best-selling cookies, eventually claiming the title of best-selling cookie of the entire 20th century. It continues to hold that title into the 21st. To date, nearly half a trillion Oreo cookies have been twisted, licked, dunked, chomped, or otherwise enjoyed by billions of people around the world.

Today, Oreo is one of Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:MDLZ)‘s most important brands as a result of multiple acquisitions and spinoffs of Nabisco that began in the 1980s with R.J. Reynolds and continued into the 21st century during Altria‘s drive to create an ever-larger consumer empire. Oreos generate $1.5 billion in annual revenues for Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:MDLZ). How much would it cost to buy enough milk to dunk all those cookies?

Untether yourself
The first mobile phone ever sold, a Motorola Solutions Inc (NYSE: MSI) DynaTAC, was introduced to the market on March 6, 1983, a decade after an early prototype had placed the first successful mobile call. The DynaTAC had been developed at Motorola by a team including eventual COO John F. Mitchell and Dr. Martin Cooper, both of whom are universally recognized as among the most important wireless-telephony innovators. Motorola had invested heavily in the development of mobile, having poured more than $100 million in research funds into the project over the 15 years leading up to the DynaTAC’s release.

The DynaTAC would seem like a primitive, bulky thing to modern mobile users, as it weighed nearly two pounds and was more than a foot high and nearly 4 inches deep. At a price tag of $3,995 — equal to over $9,000 today — it was just a bit out of reach for the average consumer. That didn’t stop a flood of interest. The DynaTAC’s waiting list swelled into the thousands as businesses and individuals in need of a constant connection demanded their own mobile brick.

The mobile industry quickly took hold in a world where few people even owned a PC. There were 300,000 worldwide wireless subscribers a year after Motorola launched the DynaTAC. Today, the number of wireless subscriptions worldwide exceeds the number of people alive on Earth. Motorola no longer dominates the mobile-phone industry as it once did, but its pioneering mobile patents were a major reason behind Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s acquisition of the company in 2012. That year, Samsung led all vendors in mobile-phone sales, surpassing former leader Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) with 406 million total shipments to Nokia’s 336 million. The two companies combine for a large piece of an enormous pie — more than 1.7 billion phones were sold in 2012.

The article The War to Power the World originally appeared on and is written by Alex Planes.

Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company and Google.

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