Sometimes I think we all feel like Ron Wayne.
We all feel like we’ve lost out on the one investment that could have made us rich.
But most of us probably haven’t made a mistake that cost us $72 billion…
Ron Wayne sold his 10% share in Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) for $500 in 1976. That share would now be worth about $72 billion.
Of course, it’s very possible that all of us would have sold out then, because 41 years ago Apple was nothing more than two guys with beards and long hair tinkering in a garage.
Now, Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world.
When was the last time you went somewhere without your smartphone? I can’t remember. It’s the first thing I pick up in the morning and the last thing I put down before bed.
Technology has changed our world completely. In just the past 15 years, we’ve jumped ahead light years.
And a few specific things have ushered this new world in.
The first thing…
My brother once asked me if my documents “were in the cloud.”
I stared at him blankly.
“What is this cloud, and what does it have to do with me?” I asked.
Actually, it has a lot to do with all of us, even if you don’t know it.
It’s a hugely profitable part of the technology sector, and it’s helped make companies like Amazon and Microsoft what they are today.
So what is cloud computing?
It’s actually simpler than you think.
Ever saved something in Google Drive on your home computer and accessed it on a work computer hours later? That document was saved in the cloud.
According to PCMag.com, “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.”
So essentially, cloud computing allows you to access everything stored in it from any computer available. You can see why this has been so hugely profitable… your information is accessible no matter where you are as long as you have the internet. This is big especially for global companies that have bases all over the world. Instead of having to mail documents or programs, everything is available from New York City to Tokyo.
Cloud computing is hugely profitable. PCMag.com writes, “Cloud computing is big business: The market generated $100 billion a year in 2012, which could be $127 billion by 2017 and $500 billion by 2020.”
Think about that: Cloud computing could be worth $500 billion in just three years… Don’t you want a piece of that?
Cloud computing is one of the reasons Larry Ellison is the fifth richest man in the world.
Ellison originally created Oracle, which is a computer database system that has expanded, according to Wikipedia: “The company primarily specializes in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered system sand enterprise software products—particularly its own brands of database management systems. In 2015 Oracle was the second-largest software maker by revenue, after Microsoft.”
Oracle has now moved into the hugely profitable field of cloud computing. It’s even willing to fight Amazon for the top spot. According to Fortune.com, “Ellison… said… that he considers Amazon to be Oracle’s number one competitor when it comes to the business of selling computing capacity on demand, also known as cloud computing.”
Amazon is huge in cloud computing, but with Amazon in Ellison’s sights, it’s possible that it won’t be the top dog for much longer.
Cloud computing has changed the way we interact with and use computers. And it’s only going to grow from where it is now. It would have been amazing to be invested in the companies working on cloud computing from the ground up. While we can’t promise you that, we have found two developments in tech that could be as groundbreaking as cloud computing has been.
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Artificial Intelligence (AI)
You might remember Watson from Jeopardy. He beat out two of the biggest winners of Jeopardy ever: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Watson wasn’t a person but an AI — an incredibly complicated computer system that is made to act in ways similar to a human.
Without a doubt, AI is a revolutionary part of our future. MarketsandMarkets estimates that AI will be worth $16.06 billion by 2020, and it has almost untold potential for security, health, and electronics over the next 50 years.
Watson has already been tapped to work with Under Armour for health and fitness, General Motors for its communication systems, and, perhaps most importantly, Apple. iOS users will be able to use Watson in-app, and app developers will be able to use it with the creation of their apps.
Over Christmas, my in-laws gifted us with Amazon’s foray into AI, currently called Alexa. With just a word, I can use Alexa to change my music, turn my lights on and off, or learn the GDP of the U.S.
The technology can be awe-inspiring… but some say it could eventually be deadly. Both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warn about the danger the technology could eventually pose for humanity, and we’ve seen some recent inklings of it outsmarting its human counterparts.
In fact, Facebook recently had to shut down some of its AI because two of its AI programs started talking to each other… in a language only they understood. Apparently the AI decided English wasn’t efficient enough, so they developed their own shorthand. While Facebook wasn’t worried about the AI talking to each other and plotting to destroy the human race as we see in movies, there’s no doubt the technology is one that should be used with caution.
The next big thing in tech is a little less scary than AI but has similar world-changing potential.
Apple might be one of the most valuable companies in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. The death of Steve Jobs in 2011 hurt the company, as Jobs was often considered the creative genius behind the new tech. The Apple Watch had a disappointing release in 2015, with Network World.com writing, “The Apple Watch hasn’t been the kind of revolutionary product many people were hoping it would be. There have been lots of questions about the initial version’s usability and the limited number of viable use cases. And it hasn’t led to spikes in sales for other wearable devices.”
Apple stock dropped over the past two years, hitting lows of $90.52 per share in May of 2016. But Apple enthusiasts don’t need to fear; Apple isn’t going anywhere. Its stock has jumped in 2017 and is currently sitting at $157.00.
And now Apple is working on something new…
Something that could revolutionize the world we live in… again.
Augmented reality is different from virtual reality in that while virtual reality completely immerses users in a virtual world, augmented reality adds computer-generated images to users’ daily lives.
Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks it will eventually become part of our day to day, as ingrained as eating three meals a day.
Apple is so dedicated to the tech that it has put a talented team together to work on AR. Bloomberg writes, “The group includes engineers who worked on the Oculus and HoloLens virtual reality headsets… digital-effects wizards from Hollywood… several small firms with knowledge of AR hardware, 3D gaming and virtual reality software.”
It’s possible that the iPhone 8, which is due to be released in fall of 2017, will have some features of AR within its new design, an innovation much needed since the disappointing release of the Apple Watch and the iPhone 7.
Tim Cook isn’t the only one who thinks Apple has a bright future. Warren Buffett recently doubled his investment in Apple, making his shares worth over $18 billion. Buffett has notoriously shied away from tech stocks, but, according to Bloomberg, he said, “Apple strikes me as having quite a sticky product and an enormously useful product to people that use it.” It’s possible that the AR advancements are part of his renewed interest and the company’s rising share prices.
Now a quick look back at the top four tech companies in these industries…
1. Oracle Corporation: (NYSE: ORCL) — Cloud Computing
Oracle is a huge company with a market cap of $200.836 billion. And even though it was founded in 1977, it isn’t stuck in the past but is actively engaging with current technology updates, specifically cloud infrastructure. It holds its own with huge competitors like Amazon and has been increasing in value over the past five years.
2. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) — Cloud Computing and AI
Amazon is the top competitor when it comes to cloud technology. It’s long been considered the best in the business for cloud computing, and there’s a solid reason for it. With a huge market cap of $456.88 billion and shares at $951.00 at the time of writing, it has a foot not only in the tech sector but in many others as well, from publishing to retail to food delivery. I mean, come on, who even buys anything from brick-and-mortar stores anymore? That’s why Amazon is a solid option, especially as share prices have jumped over $600 in the past five years.
3. International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM) — AI
Some think of IBM as the boring grandpa of the computer group… but I can tell you they’re wrong. The stock has been in a slump over the past few years and is down to $140.12 after highs of $214.93 in 2013. But there’s no need to fear for a couple reasons.
IBM has paid out dividends for more than 100 years, and it’s raised the value of its dividends for 21 years, which means it cares about its stockholders. It’s also investing in AI tech like Watson, and if AI takes off the way many people think, IBM could quickly become top dog again.
4. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) — AR
As we wrote above, Apple has a hand in many pies. From the quintessential smartphone to its foray into AR, Apple is going to be at the forefront of everything tech related. Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a market cap of $881.89 billion and share prices at $156.84. Apple might have faltered with the Apple Watch, but with the upcoming release of the iPhone 8 with possible AR capability, Apple isn’t going anywhere but up.