Seven Aging Tech Giants, Still Market Leaders

September 9, 2013 by Douglas A.

Source: Jon Ogg
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 The evolution from Web 1.0, which peaked with the tech bubble of the late 1990s, has been superseded by Web 2.0.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.

Click here to see which old tech giants are still market leaders

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.

1. EMC
> Lead industry: Data storage systems
> Market share: 31.3%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $21.7 billion
> Year founded: 1979

EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is known for its data storage systems. In the second quarter of 2013, EMC led the external disk storage systems market with a revenue share of 31.3%. EMC’s revenue totaled $5.6 billion, up only slightly from same time last year. Increases in the amount of data that consumers produce and companies record represent growing opportunities for the company. To address them, EMC recently divided its operations into three main businesses as part of a restructuring: information infrastructure business, VMware Virtual Infrastructure and EMC Pivotal. The creation of the new Pivotal division reflects the company’s efforts to remain competitive in the wake of rapid data developments in enterprise and consumer software, including cloud computing and big data.

2. Hewlett-Packard
> Lead industry: Large format printers
> Market share: 39.4%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $120.4 billion
> Year founded: 1939

Hewlett-Packard suffered a 9.4% year-over-year decline in shipments of large format printers between the second quarters of 2012 and 2013, according to IDC. Nevertheless, HP continues to be the undisputed leader in the market with a 39.4% market share, well above second place Canon. In the European PC market, the site of one of its core operations, HP is also the market leader. However, new expansions and products from companies like Lenovo will make the market more competitive. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP in 1939. The one-car garage where the Stamford classmates founded the company in Palo Alto, Calif., is considered to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

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3. Intel
> Lead industry: Semiconductors
> Market share: 16.4%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $53.3 billion
> Year founded: 1968

Founded in 1968 by two scientists, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, Intel produced the first microprocessor in 1971. Nearly 50 years later, Intel is the market leader in semiconductor sales, with a 16.4% share of the nearly $300 billion global market in 2012, according to Gartner. It was the 21st straight year that Intel was the industry’s worldwide market leader. In its most recent quarter, $8.1 billion of the company’s $12.8 billion in revenue came from its PC Client group, which produces chips for personal computers. The unit’s sales declined 5% from the previous year, likely due in part to the growing use of tablets and smartphones.

4. Cisco
> Lead industry: Ethernet switches
> Market share: 62.2%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $46.1 billion
> Year founded: 1984

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) provides a variety of products and services, but it is the market leader for Ethernet switches, devices that facilitate the transfer of data between computer networks. The company, founded by two Stanford computer scientists in 1984 and named after San Francisco, was the originator of the multi-protocol router, which allowed local connected networks, like an office network, to connect to disparate networks, such as networks in other buildings across the street or the country. Cisco’s market share was 62.2% in the second quarter of 2013, the same as the preceding quarter. According to IDC, Cisco’s market share in the fast growing 10 gigabit Ethernet market segment was 67% in the second quarter of 2013. The new 10GbE switch, which offers about 10 times the bandwidth of the 1GbE, has fallen in cost recently, causing record growth rates in this market.

5. Microsoft
> Lead industry: Desktop operating systems
> Market share: 91.2%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $77.8 billion
> Year founded: 1975

Microsoft holds a dominant market share for PC operating systems. Between its Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems, the company had more than a 91% market share as of August, according to Net Market Share. The company first released a Windows-branded operating system in 1985. While it effectively controls operating systems for the PC market, it still faces an uphill battle to find similar success in the smartphone market. As of the second quarter of 2013, less than 4% of smartphone shipments used the Windows Phone operating system, while nearly 80% used Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android. In order to push further into the smartphone market, Microsoft recently purchased Finnish giant Nokia Corp.’s (NYSE: NOK) phone business.

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6. IBM
> Lead industry: Servers
> Market share: 25.6%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $104.5 billion
> Year founded: 1911

As of 2012, IBM was the dominant producer of mainframes, such as the System z, which are powerful servers that often start at more than $1 million. But in the overall server market, where IBM still holds a narrow lead over HP, its share of the market is waning. IBM barely beat out HP for server sales, with 25.6% of the market by revenue, in the second quarter of 2013, versus HP’s 25.0%. The majority of the company’s systems and technology offerings, which include servers, had declining revenue in the last quarter versus the year before. IBM is hardly the only company experiencing such a slowdown — worldwide server revenue declined nearly 4% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2013. But servers are hardly IBM’s only business, accounting for just $3.8 billion of the company’s $24.9 billion in revenue last quarter.

7. Qualcomm
> Lead industry: Wireless semiconductors
> Market share: N/A
> Revenue last fiscal year: $19.1 billion
> Year founded: 1985

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) ranked third after Samsung and Intel in revenue from semiconductor sales in 2012. However, it made our list because it is the largest seller of wireless semiconductors. The company sold nearly $13.2 billion in semiconductors in 2012, up 31.8% from the year before, by far the largest growth of other manufacturers. Qualcomm is known for its wireless semiconductor chips and associated products, which are used most notably in smartphones and tablets. Qualcomm continues to produce new applications for wireless technology, including its new smartwatch.