To celebrate IBM’s centenary next week, the world’s leading financial magazine, The Economist, took a look at what high-tech companies might survive 100 years.
Apple made the cut, but Microsoft didn’t. And Google is looking sketchy. Why?
Great companies need simple and powerful ideas to last a long time, says The Economist.
IBM for example, lasted 100 years by shifting from selling particular technologies and products to selling services. This allowed the company to survive huge technological shifts, from punch cards to mainframes and PCs.
In the same way, Apple is organized around a simple and long-lasting idea: take the latest high technology and package it up for consumers.
Like IBM, it had a near-death experience in the 1990s, and it is dangerously dependent on its founder, Steve Jobs. But it has a powerful organising idea: take the latest technology, package it in a simple, elegant form and sell it at a premium price. Apple has done this with personal computers, music players, smartphones and tablet computers, and is now moving into cloud-based services (see article). Each time it has grabbed an existing technology and produced an easier-to-use and prettier version than anyone else. This approach can be applied to whatever technology is flavour of the month: Apple has already shifted from PCs to mobile devices.
Microsoft on the other hand, has only one good idea: Windows. And Windows doesn’t look suitable for upcoming devices like tablets or cars. The Economist thinks Dell and Cisco are also doomed (long term).
Google is built on a good idea: organize the world’s information, but is too heavily dependent on search and Adsense.
Facebook and Amazon also look like good bets for the future, says The Economist: make is easy to buy stuff and make it easy to share stuff with friends. Both look like long-lasting ideas that transcend platforms or devices.
What do you think? Will Apple be going strong in 2076?