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Tech's Big 5 -- Here to Stay? (nytimes.com) 250

schwit1 tips a piece at the NY Times about the most entrenched companies in consumer technology: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. The article makes the case that these five have a such a strong grip on the modern tech industry that they're destined to stick around for the foreseeable future. From the article: Tech people like to picture their industry as a roiling sea of disruption, in which every winner is vulnerable to surprise attack from some novel, as-yet-unimagined foe. ... But for much of the last half-decade, most of these five giants have enjoyed a remarkable reprieve from the boogeymen in the garage. And you can bet on them continuing to win. So I’m coining them the Frightful Five. .... Though competition between the five remains fierce — and each year, a few of them seem up and a few down — it’s becoming harder to picture how any one of them, let alone two or three, may cede their growing clout in every aspect of American business and society. ... In various small and large ways, the Frightful Five are pushing into the news and entertainment industries; they’re making waves in health care and finance; they’re building cars, drones, robots and immersive virtual-reality worlds. Why do all this? Because their platforms — the users, the data, and all the money they generate — make these far-flung realms seem within their grasp."
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Tech's Big 5 -- Here to Stay?

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  • Buy disruption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:19PM (#51336531) Journal

    This is the age old pattern used by established monopolies or oligopolies. See the purchase of Lyft, investment in Uber, the purchase of Foxpro, how the oil and gas industry purchases wildcat operators as just a few examples. If you have a large amount of cash and are too large to innovate, buy the innovation before someone else does and threatens your business.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:20PM (#51336539)

    20 years ago, only two of those five companies even existed. And if you had asked the prognosticators back then who would still be on top 20 years later, you would have gotten a very different list.

    • by Dins ( 2538550 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:37PM (#51336737)

      Yep. TFS even says, "But for much of the last half-decade, most of these five giants have enjoyed a remarkable reprieve from the boogeymen in the garage." Half decade. 5 years. So the entire point is that because something has stayed somewhat stable for 5 years that's probably going to continue into the foreseeable future. In the tech industry, no less...

      TFA is horribly near sighted.

      • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:44PM (#51336829) Homepage

        No, because in part patent consolidation means the boogeymen in the garage have no hope in hell.

        Come up with new and disruptive technologies? We'll buy you out as soon as you're on the radar.

        Won't sell because you have visions of being the next big thing? We'll ensure our lawyers make it so you'll never see the light of day.

        The tech industry has fundamentally changed. There IS no way a startup could do something which isn't covered under patents and other agreements between the big companies who have all mutually agreed to licensing deals.

        Time was people started companies because they had a cool idea for a product, and wanted to start companies.

        These days it's give the illusion of a cool product long enough to cash out and run like hell.

        It's stable because it's becoming increasingly impossible to get into the game.

    • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:41PM (#51336787)

      This all depends on what their actual prediction is, which I don't think is very clear even after reading the article. All it really says is they will remain major players in the industry for the foreseeable future. It is so broad, unspecific (and useless) that it will almost certainly come to pass.

      Very few companies of their size just go away. At worst one of them could be bought out by a rival, but I doubt their brand name would ever be discarded. If the prediction was that all 5 of these companies would be among the 10 most influential tech companies 20 years from now, that would be the kind of silly prediction you are referring to. But will some people still be employed by all five of these companies in 20 years? That prediction will probably pan out.

      • All it really says is they will remain major players in the industry for the foreseeable future

        So a month then?

        I might agree but even a month is pretty hazy in tech.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Yeah, 20 years ago, Microsoft is the only one of those that would have made such a list. AOL, IBM, Yahoo, and Netscape probably would have rounded out a 'top 5' list in that timeline,

      10 Years ago, Google is the only one I'd unambiguously considered to have joined the list. . If I had to make a top 5 list for that time frame, Microsoft, Google, Myspace would be firmly in it. Amazon as a retailer was of course a slam dunk, but less so as a 'tech' company, so I'm not sure. Apple is tricky, since as a mus

      • but the real overwhelming Apple presence happened with the iPhone.

        And even then, it's not hard to imagine Android overtaking them and Apple mostly losing the market.

        • by Junta ( 36770 )

          It's not hard to imagine any of those companies fates changing dramatically. It's just that most people won't believe such scenarios plausible. That's the point of my skepticism, the article proclaims them as the unstoppable entrenched 5, but history has shown a lot of unstoppable entrenched companies getting surprisingly upended, at least in the tech field, where the barrier to entry isn't as high as most people believe. It takes surprisingly little for a competitor to start seeing runaway success and v

        • by doom ( 14564 ) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @03:02PM (#51338109) Homepage Journal
          The advertising apocalypse arrives, the value of internet ads drops to zero, and google's main revenue stream evaporates. Google goes on life support living off it's cash reserve for years while it goes casting around for a great new idea that never quite comes off. (See, Yahoo, SGI, etc.)
          • by Junta ( 36770 )

            Yes, we can write up a plausible scenario to any of them. AWS, google compute engine, and azure are one catastrophic hypervisor compromise from a mass loss of confidence. Apple and Facebook are one fad away from being rendered history (regardless of the technical strength of their offerings, consumers are really fickle). Like you say, a sudden loss of confidence in internet advertising would crush Google's main stream. Also any company is generally a couple of board members away from being driven into t

      • Yeah, 20 years ago, Microsoft is the only one of those that would have made such a list. AOL, IBM, Yahoo, and Netscape probably would have rounded out a 'top 5' list in that timeline[...]

        Wow, I feel old. I remember when Ashton-Tate (dBase), Satellite Software (WordPerfect), and Lotus Corporation (Lotus 1-2-3) were unassailable.

        • by Junta ( 36770 )

          Yes, the mid 80s.... It would be sort of amusing to see this same article written about the 'tech' industry written assuming the perspective of the middle of each decade for the last 50 years. It's really amazing how at any give time people feel like 'ok, *now* things are settled and here are the players and the components are known'.

          Probably a good rule of thumb is if someone feels like it's interesting enough to actually write an article about, it's probably not settled. Only when pretty much *everyon

    • Right?! There's a very "end of history" vibe in this piece. Remember when we almost had all of physics understood in 1910? Remember when desktop computing finally got good in 2005? Remember when the perfect sailing ship came out in 1840?

      Writing a piece that essentially says "ah, the future is finally clear to me" is a sure-fire way to get a humbling dose of revolutionary disruption.

      • Well, the reality is it's a short term way to sound like you know something you don't, with no real long term consequences. In 10 years think anybody is going to lose sleep over how wrong he was? Or even remember?

        I long ago decided that when I hear pundits, prognosticators, and futurists telling me what the future will hold that they're mostly full of shit.

        They generally fall into the category of people who have something to gain by that particular prediction coming true ... or people making predictions b

    • 20 years ago, only two of those five companies even existed.

      I especially object to the term, "foreseeable future". What does that even mean? 20 years? 5? Maybe six months?

      I remember when IBM and Sun were the tech companies that were going to be on top for the foreseeable future.

    • Amazon launched July 5, 1994.
    • Trying to figure out who would have been on the list in 1996: Microsoft, Yahoo, Dell, Compaq, and Nokia? (Genuine attempt to think back then - today, Microsoft and Dell are still independent and strong, Yahoo is in danger but is still around, and Compaq and Nokia no longer exist in the same form as they once did.)

      Apple wouldn't have been on anyone's list, not even a die-hand Apple enthusiast's. At that point it really was "beleaguered"...

      Ten years ago: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Blackberry, and Dell?

  • Since when has Amazon actually been making a profit, then?
  • All the long-term successful technology companies have had to re-invent themselves to adapt to changes in the way people and technology interact. They diversify, experiment and can fail without it being fatal.

    So far Facebook, which has only been going for 12 years (yes, I know that for all the NOOBS, that seems like forever - and considering their age, it probably is) and has no history of changing itself to adapt to radically different challenges. It might be able to, but until it has gone through a coup

  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:24PM (#51336609)

    Yahoo will be king of search engines forevah!

    AOL is indestructible!

    Prodigy? Silicon Graphics? Sun?

    Naaah, naah... These "frightful five" companies will be with us "forevah!"

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:28PM (#51336649)
    A 1940s article headline:

    Are some of America's best car companies-Studebacker, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Packard-here to stay?

    You can never predict what will be around a year or 2 from now, much less over the next 10, 20, 30 years.

    Also, Car Analogy!

    • Dude, Tucker automotive is gonna take them down!

    • I would note that Oldsmobile and Pontiac were GM nameplates--the names may be gone, but GM's still here.

  • by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:30PM (#51336663)

    I have friends who work and who have worked there.... the job climate is basically ridiculous. Lots of hours, the pay not as great as their neighbor in Seattle (Microsoft), the advancement not very good either. Not to mention, Amazon is basically falling down in the enterprise space. They have made a lot of gains with CIOs/CTOs who are infrastructure focused and have a mission to "cut costs," so they have companies like GE and the like moving over to use their IaaS, but their platform services are a joke.

    Everything at AWS is rehashed open source that is made to fit into a 'cloud' world... nothing wrong with this of course, but most of the basis of their products never really was meant for humungously distributed systems. Microsoft on the other hand (love them or hate them), made a totally new stack for cloud and the development community is embracing it on the enterprise side. This is Amazon's game to lose, but given the way their storage is segregated, their platform is one-way (come to us, no migration path anywhere else!), and their costs are nothing to write home about (because everybody price matches the IaaS pricing now).... I dunno, it's not going to be great for them going into the future. Of course I could be wrong, but right now I think given their human resource problems, their platform issues, and their inability to focus on developers (since they cater more to the ITPro crowd with IaaS solutions), it doesn't look good long term for them.

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      Microsoft on the other hand (love them or hate them), made a totally new stack for cloud and the development community is embracing it on the enterprise side.

      Having used them, I would say that have a lot of downtime. And their APIs are obscure...
      Also their storage services don't scale beyond 500TB and some fixed amount of bandwidth and request rate.

      But yes, up and coming IaaS companies like packet.net is making very interesting offers. Price/performance wise, and if these companies eventually do services like S3, SQS and dynamodb they will be in a really good position.

      Unfortunately, I don't really see any open source dynamodb-like solution... Guaranteed req

    • by mveloso ( 325617 )

      Dunno, I've been a happy AWS user for years. Compared to everything out there they're the cheapest, best performing, most transparent, and easiest to use. I say that as someone who's getting abused by softlayer on a daily basis.

    • by microTodd ( 240390 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @03:38PM (#51338415) Homepage Journal

      I guess you're modded up because you sound interesting, but really? I'm not trying to be insulting but do you know what you are talking about?

      This article [informationweek.com] is a little old but AWS really is that far ahead of everyone else.

      Plus, in terms of services and features, AWS [computerworlduk.com] is also ahead.

      Now where Azure has benefit is if you're an MS shop and you want to just outsource your entire backoffice. But if you're developing....AWS has a lot more features than Azure, if you know what you're doing. No, you can't throw together a .NET wizard-based project, but if you're using an open source stack, or more of a LAMP-like MVC environment (python, rubyonrails, etc) then AWS throws so many tools for you to use (RDS, Dynamo, S3, etc) then its hard to see how you DON'T think AWS is a good environment for developers.

      And what do you mean by "Platform Issues"?

      And actually, all the enterprise developers I've worked with are looking more at AWS than Azure (not that I'm some sort of worldwide development expert or anything).

  • by aaron4801 ( 3007881 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:31PM (#51336673)
    Nothing will ever change; the world is static; progress is over. So says the New York Times.
    • by doom ( 14564 )
      Nothing will ever change in the world of journalism, at any rate: predict the status quo to keep the advertisers happy, when anything changes report it in bold face as an amazing surprise ("no one could ever have forseen...").
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:36PM (#51336725)
    I'd say Microsoft is most likely to be displaced. They've shown a distinct inability to innovate, e.g., they are now trying to hold on to market share via fear-mongering to their customers.

    .
    If Microsoft were as entrenched as the article implies, then they would not need to employ such despicably deceitful tactics in order to get Windows 7 customers to upgrade to Windows 10.

    Microsoft is showing their desperation as they try to remain relevant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Totally wrong. Microsoft might fall in relevance some, but there is NOTHING to replace it in a corporate world.

      Facebook has to be the most likely to fall the fastest, and Amazon the most likely to become something other than it is.

      • I was reading Joel on Software in the netty, and one of the chapters was about how 19 of the top 20 tech companies had been replaced x years later.

        The only one that hadn't was Microsoft, and his reason was they hadn't made a colossal fuckup like all the others. He made a joke about clippy.

        Windows 10 is 27 legions of clippy.

    • by bazorg ( 911295 )

      Possibly. The way I see it, MS used to have 90%+ of share of a much smaller market than what exists today. If they end up with, say, 20% of paying customers for Mobile/PC+Gaming, it will be more than enough for them to be bigger and more profitable than they've been so far.

      Amazon seems to be comfortably building vertical integration in their role as the biggest retail (and logistics) operation in the world, so I'd expect them to stick around in the top 5 for a long time until China comes up with the biggest

      • Microsoft and Apple will have to put up with shrinking revenues as their business is increasingly commoditized, just like IBM and HP have already had to do. Intel is probably seeing shrinking margins and shrinking revenues as well. The Amazon business model is here to stay and can only grow. I don't understand the Facebook and Google business models, it seems like they are here to stay but it also seems like they could be very volatile.
    • Under Bill Gates, M$ was able to very quickly turn itself around and correct it's mistakes. I assume it still has that ability. Granted, it seems to be scrambling for a viable business model now, but will probably succeed is transitioning from the shrinkwrapped software to the software-as-a-service model. I still think Microsoft would have greater total value if split up into separate companies (like AT&T), but that probably isn't going to happen. (Even if it did happen for HP.)
    • Microsoft are still at the top by a wide margin in the PC market. The problem is that PC sales keep shrinking and they have a very small market share on mobile, where the growth and future seems to be.
      That's why they're so desperate to get everyone on Win 10 because they think it'll help them gain marketshare on mobile, not because they're any smaller than they've been on the desktop.
      • Microsoft is a lot more than just Windows. Both MS and Google seem well diversified. I think MS has at least five different divisions that bring in over a billion dollars. They've done a good job of spreading out their investments so all their eggs aren't in one basket the way Apple has done with iPhone. PC sales are slowing but the notion that they would be replaced by tablets and phones just isn't coming true. People still need to get things done so the PC is here to stay and Windows10 is the most success

  • Modern corporations are really just clubs now. It used to be that an industrial mega-corp owned a huge quantity of capital equipment or physical resources, and this was what allowed them to keep out other competitors. If technology or tastes shifted, this capital equipment could quickly become a liability which would lead to their downfall.

    However a tech company is really just a logo that attracts smart people and money from capital markets. Apple's products are not produced because they own the iPhone plan

  • Seems everyone has forgotten about the legal defense we call "Too Big To Fail".

    Cash reserves or popularity no longer matter as long as someone is still around to convince the government that the corporation qualifies for a taxpayer bailout.

    A new and rather disgusting concept to continue perpetuating, but that's the problem with establishing precedent, and every one of the "Top 5" would attempt to use that defense if it ever came to that. And likely succeed.

    Failure is no longer an option for monopolies as l

    • Cash reserves or popularity no longer matter as long as someone is still around to convince the government that the corporation qualifies for a taxpayer bailout.

      To do that you need to have a massive case for it. Apple can't exactly claim 100000 manufacturing losses + 1000000 through knockon effects like the car companies. Google or Facebook can't exactly claim that our system of money will implode if they suddenly ceased existing.

      • Cash reserves or popularity no longer matter as long as someone is still around to convince the government that the corporation qualifies for a taxpayer bailout.

        To do that you need to have a massive case for it. Apple can't exactly claim 100000 manufacturing losses + 1000000 through knockon effects like the car companies. Google or Facebook can't exactly claim that our system of money will implode if they suddenly ceased existing.

        Yeah, you're right. It's probably a little too early to make those kinds of arguments.

        I guess the best thing to do right now is to ignore any checks and balances (anti-monopoly laws) to ensure these companies become Too Big To Fail.

        And since they have enough cash reserves to buy entire car companies, it's only a matter of ti...wait what? Google has self-driving cars now? Apple has their own car? Oh, nevermind, it's already started.

  • by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @12:50PM (#51336883)

    Google and Facebook make almost all of their money from advertising/consumer tracking related activities. Both would be very different companies of they had to rely on direct revenue sources.

    Facebook could shift to a subscription model and probably do fine - I'm guessing at least 100M or so people will pay $5-10 a month to keep sharing photos with friends and family - FB works well to keep people connected. If they can't run their infrastructure and development on $500M-$1B a month, they already have bigger issues that will bring them down.

    Google will have a harder time. They have nothing of value that could fund their operations beyond the ad/tracking services. A crash in the ad market would probably be the end for Google.

    Amazon is probably fine for a long time. The web needs a storefront, Amazon provides it.

    Apple can crash by ignoring user's needs. As a hardware company with a ton of money in the bank, it will take a while. But, Apple could lose market share quickly if another consumer computing trend emerges that cuts into their hardware business. See Blackberry for a recent example.

    MS is too entrenched in the business/consumer world to go anywhere. Just like Oracle won't go anywhere for a long time.

    Just my quick thoughts on the topic...

    -Chris

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @01:29PM (#51337313)

      I completely agree here. There are so many things that can go wrong with the advertising model.

      First and foremost, people are slowly developing a resistance to advertisements. Ads have gotten vastly more intrusive and hostile, on all dimensions (meaning you're likely to see an advertisement that wiggles [hostile by exploiting the neurons that detect movement, instead of offering a compelling sell], you're likely to see an advertisement that tries to make you feel bad [a mainstay of advertising is pretending you have a defect and convincing you they have a fix, we are seeing more extreme stuff on the psychological axis], you're likely to see an advertisement where there didn't used to be one [novelty from climbing on the "ubiquitous hostile noise" axis] ), but this can only really ramp so far. The attitude of "I'm not affected by ads" is false, but the AMOUNT that you are affected by ads is absolutely shrinking. There's a concern that advertising clients will in some cases realize this and, if enough do at the same time, crash the industry.

      Remember, it is MUCH MORE LIKELY for advertising to crash suddenly than decrease in ANY OTHER WAY. Regardless of your view on whether ads will be profitable in the future or not, in the CASE where they are less profitable, the industry itself will be able to mask this for much longer than any other industry (because their job is literally making you believe shit). So if it DOES go down, traditional predictors may not apply until it is way too late.

      Second, people are becoming hostile to advertisements in unusual numbers, and making efforts to avoid them. Every Netflix user is explicitly dodging ads with his wallet and time. If Netflix were to put ads in shit, they'd be in serious trouble, and they know it. Every Netflix tells content providers that they have other ways to make money, and reminds people that they don't have to spend their whole life being attacked by jackanapes. Adblocking will win the technical fight, and while users of adblock software (I recommend ublock origin, and I think we know what apk host engine guy recommends!) are small in number, it is becoming MUCH easier to help non-technical people use these products, and they are becoming more popular. Every person who watches ad-free shows and views the ad-free web is someone who is much less likely to want to see ads in the future.

      It all sums to advertisers having to jump through higher and higher hoops for lower and lower returns. If you throw ANYTHING to jostle the house of cards- an economic downturn, a religion recruiting heavily, any of the many political orientations that are ad-hostile gaining adherents, a series of studies that show a shitty ROI on ads- you could see a massive crash.

      And here's all these tech giants that are really just about ads ads ads ads ads. It's not a very diverse position at all.

  • Facebook shouldn't be in the list and Amazon/AWS should be in its place.
  • At one time a list would have included IBM and DEC . IBM totally dominated the computer market, and DEC had a solid share of the minicomputer and technical market. The fact that they are not in the list now illustrates that any of the above 5 could become an "also ran", or even be bought out.
    • At one time a list would have included IBM and DEC . IBM totally dominated the computer market, and DEC had a solid share of the minicomputer and technical market. The fact that they are not in the list now illustrates that any of the above 5 could become an "also ran", or even be bought out.

      Correct. And more to the point, IBM and DEC ran their shows for decades. There is nothing to prevent the currently existing big 5 to do the same. Anything can happen, but with all seriousness, I can give these companies (specifically Amazon) at least another decade. And in the software industry, a decade is an eternity.

      • IBM is still in business as an Enterprise solution provider, Consistently losing market every quarter, but definitely not going away.DEC bet wrong on the viability of personal computing and got swallowed up by HP, where the remaining carcass of DEC quickly became worth much less than the purchase price, so DEC is a valid example.
  • Last stats I saw showed that Oracle is the 2nd leading software vendor by volume behind MS. They're over $100B in AUM, but they don't make this list? Maybe the "frightful 5" should be the "sinful six".
  • AOL
    Prodigy
    CompuServe
    GEnie
    Delphi

    ***

    Which of these five is still alive? Okay, AOL as some weird f'd up zombie exoskeleton.

    • Amazing, the companies built on providing networking via dial-up modems are no longer in business... who could have predicted that?
  • LOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @01:44PM (#51337457)
    Bullshit. The more technology changes, the more the requirements of the user base change. Facebook is nothing more then entertainment, and it got a boost by it's correct calculation that people wouldn't mind being scanned and manipulated. There are many more services coming that will be real services changing the way we live and work, they just need the general public to come around to using technology first. I would even dare say that Facebook is an early gimmick that worked.

    The thought that this is it.. that this is all that technology will ever do for us is such a bleak view. That would mean our very societies will not change which is totally incorrect.
  • I'm 45 and never used an Apple product ; Amazon is zero competitive in Canada, never bought anything here ; Facebook is only to see relative pictures, I do not post there ; I use Linux for years. The only thing I use from google is search engine, chrome, gmail.

    I must say if Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft were all to dissapear, it will change nothing. But Google as a search engine is still top notch and have no real competition so for the moment, they stay.
    • I must say if Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft were all to dissapear, it will change nothing. But Google as a search engine is still top notch and have no real competition so for the moment, they stay.

      From your world. The rest of the world uses Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft products. Could they be replaced? Yes but because they are not important to your world does not mean they are not important to everyone.

    • Facebook is the de facto login mechanism to many web sites now, so like Adobe, they are fairly well entrenched into the system and hard to get rid of. Many websites are still providing videos that are Flash-only, despite Adobe's refusal to port flash to any new devices... go figure. I kept expecting Facebook to go the same way as MySpace, but it looks like i was wrong. Apple and Microsoft will lose market share, but they are not going away anytime soon. Amazon is probably the best run company in the world r
      • I don't really get that.. if I'm developing a website, how hard is it to encrypt a password and store it in a database, or use a framework that does that? More effort to figure out how to link securely with facebook. It's a real lazy developer that can't code an email registration.
  • If I was to name some of the best managed companies around today, all 5 of those would be on the list, with Amazon ranked highest and Microsoft lowest. Microsoft makes a lot of mistakes, but they have an amazing ability to turn themselves around overnight. Amazon is constantly starting business "experiments", then quickly discarding the ones that don't work. Regardless of how you personally feel about these companies, if they continue to be run as they currently are, they'll be around for a while. All of t
  • The answer is no, of course. In the next 30 years, two or three of those will be gone or mostly forgotten (especially in the consumer space, who are so fickle). That is just obvious. The more interesting question, which of those are most likely to die?

    Which of these companies are the most likely to disappear:
    Amazon
    Apple
    Facebook
    Google
    Microsoft
    • by ibpooks ( 127372 )

      Which of these companies are the most likely to disappear:

      Facebook, Apple and Google; in that order. These companies are the ones who depend most on the preferences and tastes of fickle consumers. They (especially Facebook) have little to no value in the delivery of business services where longevity and stability reigns.

  • The key words from the summary "stick around for the foreseeable future". Yes, these companies will stick around for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the foreseeable future is only 1-2 years.
  • Lotus
    AOL
    MySpace
    Yahoo!

    These are just some of the companies that were once considered "dominant" in their various spaces, and then got utterly decimated by the passage of time.
    While there may eventually be companies with the endurance and dominance of IBM or General Electric in the Internet space, it is hubris to say it is any of today's current companies. Their future is unwritten, and the mighty have fallen over and over again throughout history.

  • It is interesting to consider the components of the Dow Jones Industrial Index [wsj.com] over time.

    Some have stayed around forever (General Electric, since DJIA started in 1896). Some you may have never heard of (International Nickel, 1927-1959).

    The majority of current DJIA components have only been in the index since 1991.

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