New tech is supposed to replace old tech at an accelerating pace, analysts believe. The evolution from Web 1.0, which peaked with the tech bubble of the late 1990s, has been superseded by Web 2.0. The personal computer (PC) has been the dominant personal tech device since the 1980s, even before Web 1.0. Now mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are beginning to dominate the marketplace.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) pioneered the launch of these new products with the iPhone in 2007. PC sales, which grew most years for decades, have now started to decline and are in the middle of record collapse. At the same time, global smartphone sales are projected to reach one billion this year and are expected to grow through most of the decade. PC-centric companies, which include Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), have slipped into steep declines as Apple and Samsung have posted strong growth.
Of course, the death of Web 1.0 and the technology that went with it is not restricted to PCs and their displacement by more portable devices. Internet users now spend more time on Facebook than any other website. A decade ago, the world’s largest social network did not exist. Time spent on Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr also has surged. With that trend, the flow of advertising dollars has shifted as well. At the same time, revenue of large Web portals, the core of Internet content a few years ago, has stopped growing.
Not all old tech companies have been undermined by new technologies. Several actually continue to do remarkably well. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which was founded more than a century ago, remains the top provider of servers, based on revenue. And the revenues of its software and services businesses, which operate in competitive markets, reach into the tens of billions of dollars a year.
Old tech companies often maintain market share (and large amounts of revenue) because they invented — or were the first significant distributors of — critical products and services that have remained in great demand for decades.
Hewlett-Packard, which has suffered from revenue declines in many parts of its business, continues to be the top provider of printers. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), despite the drop in PC sales, holds more than three-quarters of the personal computer and server chip markets. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), which has failed to build meaningful interest around its latest mobile operating system (OS), continues to provide the OS for nine out of 10 PCs sold worldwide. As a matter of fact, the revenue from the Windows division actually grew last quarter because of the introduction and adoption of Windows 8.
To identify the aging tech giants that are still market leaders, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed companies listed in the Fortune 500. Each of the seven companies was founded in or before 1985. Each is, as of the most recently available data, a market leader in a vital technological product — from semiconductors to operating systems — by sales, revenue or usage. Sources used for this information included Gartner, International Data Corp. (IDC) and Net Applications’ Net Market Share. Additionally, we reviewed figures published by each company in its most recent quarterly and full-year reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Whether these companies will maintain their dominant positions in the future is subject to the same kind of technological advances that caused the demise of the PC. Eventually, most technology gets replaced by something better, faster or more efficient. However, the companies on the list have the advantage of having held the high ground in their businesses for decades.
These are the aging tech giants that are still market leaders.