Will Apple be around in 2075? Ask IBM

Apple HQThe origin of New York-based global technology company International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) dates back to 1911, easily making it the longest-surviving tech firm till date.

Stressing that “Apple will be around a long time, like IBM”, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes that his company — along with Google and Facebook — will be bigger in 2075 and dominate the world of technology.

“Apple will be around a long time, like IBM. Look at Apple’s cash ($246.1 billion, at the end of its last fiscal quarter). It can invest in anything. It would be ridiculous to not expect them to be around (in 2075). The same goes for Google and Facebook,” Wozniak, who is nicknamed “Woz”, told USA Today this week.

The two Steves — Jobs and Wozniak — co-founded Apple in 1976 to develop and sell personal computers. Later, Ronald Wayne joined them as the third co-founder. The company was incorporated as Apple Computer Inc. in 1977 and was renamed Apple Inc. in 2007 to reflect its shifted focus toward consumer electronics.

According to Canada-based global investment bank RBC Capital Markets, benefiting from its expensive “plus” models and rising demand for its products, Apple will be worth at least $824 billion this year.

Can Apple become next IBM, score 100 and remain not out?

“This is clearly too far out to make any prediction of reasonable sense. Wozniak seems to be overestimating the current influence and capabilities of the three tech majors and magnifying it over what is a very long term. We are not in a position to reliably make that prediction,” Ashutosh Sharma, Vice President and Research Director, Forrester, told IANS.

The “Big 3” — Apple, Google and Facebook — are investing in new-age technologies and areas such as space exploration, self-driving vehicles, AI, virtual reality/augmented reality, machine learning, human-computer interface, biotechnology and what not — things that are going to define the future of the human race.

So we can say with some certainty that these tech firms — already having an edge over their peers — are actively advancing their AI capabilities and that will help them dominate their industries over the next 5-10 years.

But 50-plus years? In that kind of time time-frame, an organisation typically would have gone through many leadership changes, a few major cultural shifts and way too many business cycles.

“None of the three firms have lived long enough to warrant an opinion that they will continue to win through the generational shifts to come during this long a period. Rest is all speculation,” Sharma emphasised.

Fifty-plus years is especially a long time-frame in the technology space. Even if the “Big 3” existed that long, and in a dominating position, what will they be doing to make the world better that is different from what they are doing today?

“A lot much of democratisation of technology will take place through them. New and innovative business opportunities and models will emerge and several new use cases of technology, essentially connected technologies, will evolve that will increase the value of ‘connectedness’ in our lives,” Faisal Kawoosa, Principal Analyst (Telecoms) at CyberMedia Research (CMR), told IANS.

As we move towards a connected and immersive environment, most of the times it will be because of one of these three companies. “These three also form the value chain — Apple for devices, Google for backbone and Facebook somewhere in the middle,” Kawoosa added.

Together, the “Big 3” have reached to almost half of the world’s population in one way or the other.

“Without doubt the ‘Big 3’ are sitting on a huge pile of cash, but we believe that it’s their capability to spot and change with the changing trends that will take them to a long way into the future rather than just revenue strength,” Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at New Delhi-based Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

The impact of these three companies alone on mankind can be huge and with the kind of talent pool they attract, it won’t be difficult for them to venture into any segment, especially given that they have access to data on almost half the global population.

According to Krishna Mukherjee, an analyst with CMR, the three biggies need to innovate and experiment at every point as change is dynamic and, with changing times, needs also undergo transformation.

Let us return to the case of IBM.

With a market capitalisation of over $160 billion, IBM, which traditionally has been manufacturing and selling computer hardware and software, has now forayed into areas like artificial intelligence and cognitive analytics (IBM Watson is one such example), Cloud-based solutions and research work in nanotechnology and nanoscience.

Whether Apple will be there in 2075 or not is one question; but IBM may very well be there, inching towards celebrating 200 years of its existence.

Nishant Arora / IANS