What's In 2010 For Google, Apple, and Microsoft
By Jason Hines on December 10, 2009
As we get close to 2010 we can take a look at what might be in the future for 2010 for Google, Apple, and Microsoft – three fierce competitors. We’ll try to review it both from what information we have in Recorded Future as well as if there’s anything interesting to learn here – for example if you’re a sales/buy side analyst covering these companies.
First let’s just review the “quantity of future” that Recorded Future has indexed on each company – simply query Google/Apple/Microsoft Next Year – and interestingly enough we have loads of information on Google and Microsoft – >500 results, whereas for Apple we only find 24 hits (IBM is even more quiet – 10 hits).
Now this can be attributed to many things – it might be a function of source coverage (are we lacking sources on Apple?), the amount/control of corporate communications regarding the future, or the amount of gossip and rumors regarding a company. Interestingly enough what we’ve learned about Apple is that we have plenty of source coverage (including rumor mill sites) – but Apple is very good about keeping quiet – and we only see run-ups in predictions just around their launch events (like the WWDC and 9/9/09 event). This compared to Google and Microsoft where we have an ongoing flood of rumours, gossip, etc. This might also reflect the level of (de)centralization of communications in various companies.
Products in 2010?
Our first line of interrogation, given the nature of these companies, is to explore product releases – and here it certainly is a major difference between the three companies – we find a single event on Apple, the rumored tablet computer:
Rumor: Apple Tablet Will Support HSDPA – Sorry about that, Verizon… Company
According to Cens (via Tablet Age), Apple’s new tablet is poised to launch in February for between $800 and $1,000, and will feature a 9.6-inch touch screen and built-in HSPDA (high speed download packet…
whereas for Google we find 44 (obviously lots of duplicates – but many products like Chrome, Android, Editions, etc.) and for Microsoft 61. Quite a difference. In fact Microsoft seems to be heading a whole series of product releases in 2010 – Windows 7 Mobile, Windows 8, Visual Studio 2010, Office 2010, Cloud computing services, Wait, Microsoft?s Project Natal will be $80? That can?t be right Company motion controller Project Natal in November (with Sony launching their competitor in the spring).
If you’re a Microsoft fan this might be exciting – and if you’re an analyst developing revenue models for the company you may have your work cut out for you trying to model the impact of these releases! When we soon add sentiment scoring it obviously would be quite interesting to model future financial impacts vis-a-vis the positive/negative buzz surrounding an upcoming product release event. How about modeling short term stock price/volatility impact around these type of events for Microsoft?
BTW the “zip it/shut up approach” by Apple really seem to be working – even if there always are people who find out the details – e.g. how John Gruber reported on the name on the iPhone 3gs 18 hours ahead of the product release.
The most interesting future oriented business relation here (simple query – Business Relation Apple Next Year) might be the future of the relation between Apple and AT&T – whether it will in continue to be exclusive? Gene Munster says “…In other words, we expect Apple to add new iPhone carriers in the U.S. within the next year (likely with a new product launch next summer)…”. We can also find other examples like the Microsoft/Yahoo deal should be finalized in the spring of 2010 – but nothing else dramatic.
The Google Books deal is set for a final hearing in February – which could have all kinds of impact.
Exploring financial markets activities (simple query for example Buy Backs Microsoft 2010) by these companies we can for example find the Microsoft CFO commenting of stock buybacks in their Q4 earnings call “As I called out in April, capital strength and flexibility will continue to be a focus area for fiscal 2010 but we remain committed to returning capital to shareholders through share repurchase… and dividends.” We find no information regarding future buybacks from neither Apple nor Google.
Is Microsoft Heading for $30? Company
MSFT Monday is up 40 cents, or 1.7%, to $23.75. – Despite the fact that the stock has rallied 60%, he thinks EPS estimates remains too low for the June 2010 fiscal year – and for for FY 2011 as well.
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Our big payoff comes if GOOG can get to $580 by March as our $11 $550/580 spread would pay back $30 (up 172%) so we anxiously await the upgrades but, for today, we’d prefer if they stay below…
Who else is impacted?
Google, Microsoft, and Apple are significant companies that can have material impact on other companies. For example the GPS navigation functionality in Android had big impact on both Garmin and Telenav – including the the 2010 IPO of Telenav:
Google: The Not-So-Gentle Giant Steps into Mobile Apps Company
One of the hardest-hit companies, Garmin ( GRMN ), has shed some $1.8bn in market capitalization in the two weeks since Google announced its move. – We also noted that Google Maps Navigation is likely to weigh on the IPO of TeleNav, even though the offering won’t hit the market until next spring.
Likewise Android’s early success is causing handset vendors to re-evaluate their OS strategy – like for the upcoming Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mobile. Microsoft is positioning Windows 7 versus Chrome (to be launched in late 2010), Google is reported to have set up a team of engineers to study Bing, and Mozilla/Firefox is planning for a October or November 2010, with a Google Chrome like design.
Other type of companies
One might wonder if it’s only companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft that flourish in speculation – however take a look at this visualization on Boeing. Lots of highly interesting future events – including product releases, customer orders, upcoming debt payments, environmental regulations, etc.
Clearly these three companies have different PR approaches – where Apple is the by far most controlled, but even for Apple you can dive in to learn more. If explicit future event predictions are not available we may be able to review historical patterns for indications of the future.
Being able to line up categories of future events can be quite powerful – such as the 2010 product cycle of Microsoft – regardless if you’re a sell side analyst identifying a stock price catalyst pipeline, a quantitative analyst modeling event volatility, a risk manager looking for black swans, a competitor trying to line up your own product launch, a PR/IR professional, etc.