VC Fred Wilson predicts Apple won’t be one of the Top 3 Tech Companies by 2020 – What do you think?

Fred Wilson at NYC TechCrunch Disrupt

Fred Wilson of New York’s Union Square Ventures, one of the top and respected venture capitalist kicked off TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York yesterday with an interview with Michael Arrington.

They discussed a range of interesting topics but when Arrington asked him to predict the top three companies by 2020, Wilson predicted that the top three companies would be Facebook, Google “and one that we haven’t heard of.” 

To Arrington’s surprise Apple did not make it to his list. Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch reports:

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.

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. “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].”

I do think Apple needs to improve its iCloud services, which I hope to outline how in the coming days as part of my iOS 8 wishlist series, but I would be surprised if Apple does not manage to remain one of the top three tech companies in the world by 2020, if not the top tech company.

While Apple may not have the best cloud offering in the world, one of its biggest advantages has been the close coupling of the hardware and software. It has also significantly improved the stickiness of its platform over the last few years by offering services like iMessage, FaceTime, PhotoStream etc, making it the only cohesive device and cloud offering in the industry. I also expect Apple to add more and more services and revolutionary devices (wearable devices, new Apple TV that doubles up as a gaming console etc) to this ecosystem to increase the stickiness of their platform.

Some well-known Apple commentators like John Gruber of Daring Fireball have pointed out that that Fred Wilson has been wrong about Apple before as he sold his Apple stock in 2009 for $91 per share (it crossed $600 again for the first time since 2012 yesterday), but his reason for selling the stock wasn’t because he didn’t believe the company would do well. I have a lot of respect for Wilson, and follow his blog religiously but he has been wrong about Apple before, and I think he’ll be wrong about Apple.

You can watch Fred Wilson’s interview with Michael Arrington at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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