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Technology Stock Roundup: MSFT Advances, INTC Softens

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The last week was a big one for technology companies, with Computex (the world’s largest computing tradeshow) being held in Taipei and Apple seeing a rare loss to Samsung in their perennial bickering over patents.

Regarding Shows and Showcasing

Computex was all about mobile because tablets continue to cannibalize traditional computing devices. The first quarter of 2013 saw tablet shipments doubling with PCs dropping 14% (IDC). Tablets will overtake PCs by 2015, so says IDC.

Computer makers appear to be going a bit crazy as they scramble to capture a share of the mobile pie. Asian player Asustek announced a hybrid device. Built to run on both Google’s Android and Microsoft’s (MSFT - Free Report) Windows 8, the Asus device is a triple play on a laptop, tablet and desktop. Acer’s mini tablet is powered by Microsoft.

Other hybrids by these two companies included phablets (phone + tablet), tablet-laptops and so forth. Dell also announced a convertible. True to tradition, Apple (AAPL - Free Report) kept its distance from Computex, saving its goodies for its own event to be held next week.

On the chip level, Intel’s (INTC - Free Report) Haswell proved to be a breakthrough. While still consuming more power than competing ARM Holdings (ARMH) devices, Haswell offers much higher speeds and have a lower form factor than other Intel products.

Intel’s philosophy has changed over the years and the company made it clear that Haswell could be used across all operating systems (Android, Chrome, Windows and iOS). However, the low battery life means that Intel devices are better suited for convertibles (so the extra battery can be hidden in the keyboard). Competitor ARM also announced an enhancement for midrange handsets.   

Courtroom Drama

The International Trade Commission (ITC) found Apple guilty of infringing a patent and banned the import of some Apple devices. Apple said it would appeal and President Obama has 60 days to set aside the ruling. In Samsung’s favor, the ITC is an independent quasi-judicial body offering technical expertise to the executive and legislature, which basically means that it is rarely overridden.

It remains to be seen if Samsung can have the ban extended to other devices until Apple licenses the technology. In Apple’s favor, the ruling is with respect to older devices and some are optimistic that new product sales will not be affected.

Google’s Motorola has been a drag, but it had a lucky break last week, when it settled a patent dispute with TiVo (TIVO - Free Report) . Motorola, along with Cisco (CSCO - Free Report) and Time Warner Cable , has agreed to pay $490 million (far less than the billion dollars estimated by some analysts and the “billions of dollars” that TiVo itself expected). TiVo was basing its estimates on the number of set top boxes Motorola has sold Time Warner Cable. Google and Cisco will be licensing the technology.

Most of the top tech stocks performed in line with the market in the first three days of the week, but while Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco pulled ahead on Thursday and Friday, Apple, Facebook (FB - Free Report) and Intel slumped.


Last Week’s Performance

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Next week should also be exciting for the sector-

The Big Acquirers

Apple, Google and Yahoo are the big acquirers of small companies. In fact, the acquisitions are so small that they often don’t get much print. But these three have been enthusiastic shoppers, spending millions in the last few months. So we have our eyes on them.

Promises To Keep…

Apple will be having its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week from June 10 through June 14 where it is likely to unveil the next iOS, iPhone 5S in all-new colors (gold and grey according to rumors), new MacBooks based on Intel’s Haswell processor, iRadio, wearable computing devices and more. Investors have remained unimpressed with Apple’s efforts over the past few months and many feel that the company is losing its innovative edge. We wait to see if Apple delivers on its promise of “game changing” devices.

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