VC Fred Wilson: By 2020 Apple won’t be a top-3 tech company, but Google and Facebook will

“Fred Wilson of New York’s Union Square Ventures, one of the top tech investors around, believes that by 2020, the biggest tech company in the world — Apple — will cease to be the most important, and won’t even be in the top three,” Ingrid Lunden reports for TechCrunch. “Speaking at today’s TC Disrupt conference in NYC, he predicted that the top three tech companies, instead, will be Google, Facebook ‘and one that we’ve never heard of.'”

“Why? Apple, he believes, is ‘too rooted to hardware,’ with not enough tied into the cloud, and that will make it too much of a challenge for it to evolve going forward,” Lunden reports. “‘I think hardware is increasingly becoming a commodity,’ he said. ‘Their stuff in the cloud is largely not good. I don’t think they think about data and the cloud.’ Twitter, meanwhile, he thinks will be ‘four, five, six, seven… but I’m not sure it will be number-two [or three].'”

“It’s surprising to think that the tables could turn so dramatically in, effectively, six years. It wouldn’t be the first tech company to drop out in value even if it holds mindshare,” Lunden reports. “Speaking to Michael Arrington on stage, Wilson said he had no idea what will occupy number-three in Apple’s place, ‘I sure hope that I’m an investor,’ he added.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Siri, remind us to run a top-of-the-site article on January 1, 2020 that very clearly reminds Fred Wilson of his proclamation. Thanks.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “boecherer” for the heads up.]

60 Comments

    1. I agree but let’s you are a brilliant analyst. Would you really put your reputation on the line 6 years ahead of time? Especially when Apple is finally broken out of a stock rut and has just been awarded money because somebody stole their patents? I just don’t think this guy is too bright.

    2. His prediction is indeed stinky, but at least he gave some reasoning with some truth in it.

      Apple still has not excelled in mobile services like they have with hardware and software. Even Steve Jobs poked fun at some of Apple’s online screw ups. Apple needs to find an exceptional leader for the cloud, like they did for previous Next Big Things.

      1. “Apple needs to find an exceptional leader for the cloud…”

        What’s a leader without a team? It takes 80 engineers and scientists to achieve a magnitude in the realm of Next Big Things.

        Tech Crunch posed the question and two maroons gave it their best shot. They missed the target by four feet.

        Without exceptional hardware to sidestep the morass that is software, we’ll always be confined by code in the interest of business and national security.

        Apple is first and foremost, a hardware company. Supreme king of the Vertical Markets. The experience is analogous to buying a good razor and getting free blades for life.

        Michael Arrington is saying Code is King and hardware is passé?

        GoogleFace have an incestuous relationship with hardware. They serve the internet over sophisticated hardware using highly secret algorithms, but their hardware offerings to consumers is nil.

        GoogleFace are codependent on consumer hardware and are looking to take the lead using the Telcos to define the mobile space ahead of the hardware guys.

        Bill Gates’s business model; the pace of the hardware innovation is blunted by Microsoft’s schedule.

        Steve Jobs believed terrific software for exceptional hardware developed entirely by Apple is the only way to sidestep the storms of madness in the market; to create your own market and invite the world.

        The fickle come and go but the Apple faithful are always working.

  1. He MAY be right that Apple won’t be a top tech company six years from now. It’s always possible. Who knows what major technological, legal, or financial developments will occur in that timeframe?

    That said, to make predictions that Facebook and Google will continue to grow (as Facebook becomes more and more passé and Google’s primary source of income, advertising, comes under attack) is just arrogance.

      1. What they all said. I think I’ll flip a coin. More likely to be correct.
        Maybe he should change his prediction to, “If Apple continues to do exactly the same things, then….” And that is soooo likely! /s

    1. I believe he is correct to some degree about hardware becoming a commodity. I also agree that Apple just doesn’t do services well. I also believe that Apple is well aware of these issues and hasn’t been sitting on their thumbs. Hopefully Apple will roll with the punches and continue to try to lead the pack. But never say never. Who would’ve ever thought that what once were pillars of industry (US Steel, AT&T and General Motors) would go away? Government Motors? AT&T is actually Bell companies. In particular Southwestern Bell. And US Steel? So never say never. There’s always somebody out there chipping away at the leaders. Things change.

      1. The difference is in the time frame. Those shifts did not occur in the span of 6 years. Facebook has way more lock in than Google which could be replaced in any number of ways from more specific search like Yelp, to innovations in advertising, to changing views on Google itself. Facebook has a huge network of people who are members and that is harder to build than a search engine IMO.

    2. Apple will be a top tech company if it remains a CREATIVE company. Creativity in business these days is ‘as rare as hen’s teeth’. Seriously. I’ll stick MY neck out and say that most of the self-destructive companies that grab the headlines these days will have managed to destroy themselves by 2020, or soon thereafter. The self-destructive imperative in today’s biznizz world is blatant and prolific.

      Apple is EXCEPTIONAL right now in time. If they can manage to remain EXCEPTIONAL into the future, that future is secured.

      The barren, unimaginative Samsungs of the world? Flushing themselves down into the sewer of history as we speak.

      1. I slightly disagree regarding Samsung. I fully expect them to continue copying whatever everyone else comes up with. They’ve managed to continue doing that so far (not just in mobile phones), so why would they suddenly fail now?

        The only thing stopping Samsung from collapsing is the legal systems of the countries in which they operate. So long as we fail to address that, their future is fairly secure. Unfortunately.

        1. Samsung is living on a cloud of HYPE right now. They have made themselves into a marketing company, which spells their doom. I write about this specific subject constantly so I won’t bore the hell out of everyone here.

          Samsung’s remaining hope is their manufacturing skill. Obviously they can make decent hardware when their marketing scum aren’t hobbling them. Therefore, there aren’t many complaints about the components they’ve made for Apple. It’s when Samsung start trying to make stuff to fit some marketing vision of ‘the market’ that the company does a scar-inducing face plant.

          If Samsung can kill off their dependence on marketing to float their hole infested boat and plug up all the holes that prevent them from being creative, they’d have a future.

          But sorry, as they are right now, Samsung is determined to kill itself.

  2. I wonder what will happen to Google when the mass public finally realizes that google spies, tracks and records more of your information than the NSA and then sells that information to the highest bidder in the form of advertising. In the Matrix the machines turned humans into batteries in the real world google has turned them in to ATM’s.

    1. Exactly, this hat-on-an-ass-on-a-hat has riled against Apple since day dot. And there’s a big difference between market prognosticator and a clairvoyant; he’s neither.

  3. “I don’t think they think about data and the cloud.”

    There is the problem Fred….you’ve been thinking again. Can’t wait for him to re-read his comments in 2020.

    1. Sure, Fred. Apple thinks nothing about the cloud, nothing about huge data centers, about delivering music, movies, TV shows, etc., about syncing devices seamlessly with computers, etc. etc.

      In 6 years Apple will be just as much of a cloud company as Google or Facebook, AND Apple will have the hardware which hooks people into its ecosystem. Apple will not only sell hardware, but it will sell apps, media, and other items to its device owners, as well as advertising, just like Google and Facebook.

  4. i think a better prediction would be that in 2020 seven of the top ten tech companies will be new to the top ten, but i have no good idea who will be in or out.

  5. Twitter has one product. One that people don’t pay for, and for which advertising is even more of an annoyance than in search results. What signs are there that they can expand beyond what they’re going at the moment. Even google have had to try and do other things other than search. Some of those things have had more success than others, but at least they’re taking those steps.

  6. Thanks to such companies like Apple who create means for Google and Facebook-like companies to exist. So why Google and Facebook should be bigger? … yeah right I forgot about Wall Street-add-reduce-value-mafia

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