Which of the big tech companies (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple) will still be major players in the next 10 years?

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My guess (and this is a guess, not a forecast) is that all four companies will still be major players over the next ten years. Here is my rationale for this assertion:

Facebook has a vast, growing, and unique database of consumer data that is extremely valuable to advertisers. The more active Facebook’s users are, the more this database grows and the more valuable this database becomes.

Google has a core product that becomes smarter and more indispensable the more people use it. I think that it is unlikely that our need to search for information on the internet ends in the next ten years, or that a competitor will provide a more useful method to search for everything. And I haven’t even mentioned YouTube, Android, or Alphabet’s various other projects that give the parent company optionality.

Microsoft, despite all the gripes against its products, has long provided and still provides the standard platforms and applications on which work is done in the corporate, government, and non-profit sectors.

Apple has developed a product that helped it achieve the most profitable quarter for any company ever. The iPhone is highly addictive, increasingly indispensable (as are all smartphones, more generally), and able to extract most of the profits in the handset industry. Apple has done a masterful job in positioning the iPhone as a covetable luxury product, and I don’t expect this to change over the next ten years.

Of the four companies discussed, I worry most about Apple because it is the most dependent on a single hardware form factor. Any student of business history knows how brutally ruthless competition is in hardware. What if another device that provides functionality equal to or better than current smartphones comes out and experiences massive adoption – and Apple isn’t the company to produce this device? How will Apple fare then? You may say that this will never happen, but we don’t have to look that far back to remember when Blackberry was the dominant smartphone.

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